Polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) structures consisting of bilayers of poly(styrene sulfonate) (PSS) and poly(allyl amine) (PAH) on a silicon substrate were compressed in our recently developed confinement cell. The structure of the PEM stack was measured by neutron reflection while a confining pressure was varied from 0 to 5 bar. The volume fraction of water in the multilayer decreased with applied pressure and PSS-terminated PEMs remained more swollen than PAH-terminated PEMs. Surprisingly, the compression-induced deswelling of the PAH-terminated PEMs is uneven (with the layers closer to the silicon substrate being preferentially dehydrated) while in the PSS-terminated PEM, the water is more evenly distributed.

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Last edited: Friday September 10, 2010

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