Nonequilibrium Phenomena in Confined Soft Matter

This book, edited by Prof Simone Napolitano, deals with those properties of non-equilibrium soft matter that deviate greatly from the bulk properties as a result of nanoscale confinement.The ultimate physical origin of these confinement effects is not yet fully understood. At the state of the art, the discussion on confinement effects focuses on equilibrium properties, finite size effects and interfacial interactions. However this is a limited vision which does not fully capture the peculiar behavior of soft matter under confinement and some exotic phenomena that are displayed. This volume is organized in the following three main themes.

Equilibration and physical aging: treating non-equilibrium via the formal methodology of statistical physics in bulk, we analyse physical origin of the non-equilibrium character of thin polymer. We then focus on the impact of nanoconfinement on the equilibration of glasses of soft matter (a process of tremendous technological interest, commonly known as physical aging), comparing the latest trends of polymers in experiments, simulations with those of low-molecular weight glass formers.

Irreversible adsorption: the formation of stable adsorbed layers occurs at timescales much larger than the time necessary to equilibrate soft matter in bulk. Recent experimental evidence show a strong correlation between the behaviour of polymers under confinement and the presence of a layer irreversibly adsorbed onto the substrate. This correlation hints at the possibility to tailor the properties of ultrathin films by controlling the adsorption kinetics. The book reports physical aspects of irreversible chain adsorption, such as the dynamics, structure, morphology, and crystallization of adsorbed layers.

Glass transition and material properties: this section of the book focuses on the spread of absolute values in materials properties of confined systems, when measured by different experimental and computation techniques and a new method to quantify the effects of confinement in thin films and nanocomposites independently on the investigation procedure will be presented.