The high-frequency and low-amplitude dynamic mechanical response from a single poly(vinyl alcohol) chain was investigated. Modification of a commercial atomic force microscope enabled high-frequency and low-amplitude periodic deformations of polymer chains during extension to be performed. Such an experiment has previously been considered untenable due to hydrodynamic and viscous effects, but we introduce here a method to isolate the response of the polymer from the hydrodynamic response. For periodic deformations with frequencies of 400-2000 Hz and amplitudes of 0.55-16.9 nm, we find that the dynamic mechanical response from poly(vinyl alcohol) does not differ from its static response. This result is not unexpected as poly(vinyl alcohol) is a highly flexible polymer with intramolecular relaxation processes taking place on a short time scale. The choice of a polymer with a fast relaxation allows its static properties to be recovered from the dynamic measurements and enables the method suggested in this paper for decoupling the polymer response from the hydrodynamic response to be validated.
Macromolecules, 2006, Vol 39, Issue 18, p. 6180-6185