An application of an homogenization method to a model of diffusion in glassy polymers

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The sorption of gases in polymers below their glass‐transition temperature Tg is known in many cases to be described by the “dual sorption” theory, according to which the gas is held in accordance with both the Langmuir and Henry's laws. Based on this theory, expressions for the “effective diffusion coefficient” in the glassy polymers have been obtained by investigators in the past, notably by Paul and Koros.2 The present analysis regards the glassy polymers as inhomogeneous with regions on which the gas sorption follows the Langmuir law. Assuming that the linear dimensions of these regions, which are often referred to as “microvoids” (although they are not space filled by vacuum), are small compared to the macroscopic length of interest but large compared to the mean free path of the penetrant gas molecules, we derive a rigorous relation between the average flux and the concentration gradient in the polymer and show that this relation can be expressed in terms of an “effective diffusion coefficient” Deff which depends on the details of the microstructure, i.e., the size, shape and spatial distribution of the “microvoids.” This expression for Deff is shown to reduce to that of Paul and Koros2 in two situations: (1) when the “voids” consist of slabs running parallel to the concentration gradient, and (2) when the “voids” are spherical and the temperature of the polymer is not too different from Tg. The results of the present study lead to an alternative procedure for interpreting the experimental data on sorption and permeation which may have some advantages over the procedure currently employed. Finally, the analysis presented here is also applicable to polymers containing adsorptive fillers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-575
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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