Characterisation of the Interfacial Adhesion of the Different Components in Wood–Plastic Composites with AFM
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements were employed to assess polymer-surface interfacial interaction strength. The main feature of the measurement is the use of contact-mode AFM as a tool to scratch off the polymer monolayer adsorbed on the solid surface. Tapping-mode AFM was used to determine the depth of the scraped recess. Independent determination of the layer thickness obtained from optical phase interference microscopy (OPIM) confirmed the depth of the AFM scratch. The force required for the complete removal of the polymer layer with no apparent damage to the substrate surface was determined. Polypropylene (PP), low-density polyethylene (PE), and PP-grafted-maleic anhydride (PP-g-ma) were scraped off silane-treated glass slabs, and the strength of surface interaction of the polymer layer was determined. In all cases it was determined that the magnitude of surface interaction force is of the order of van der Waals (VDW) interactions. The interaction strength is influenced either by polymer ability to wet the surface (hydrophobic or hydrophilic interactions) or by hydrogen bonding between the polymer and the surface treatment.