Molecular weight effects on interfacial properties of linear and ring polymer melts: A molecular dynamics study

C Meddah and A Milchev and SA Sabeur and AM Skvortsov, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 145, 194902 (2016).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4967339

Using molecular dynamics simulations, we study and compare the pressure, P, and the surface tension, gamma, of linear chains and of ring polymers at the hard walls confining both melts into a slit. We examine the dependence of P and gamma on the length (i. e., molecular weight) N of the macromolecules. For linear chains, we find that both pressure and surface tension are inversely proportional to the chain length, P(N)-P(N -> infinity) proportional to N-1, gamma(N)-(N ->infinity)proportional to N-1, irrespective of whether the confining planes attract or repel the monomers. In contrast, for melts comprised of cyclic (ring) polymers, neither the pressure nor the surface tension is found to depend on molecular weight N for both kinds of wall-monomer interactions. While other structural properties as, e. g., the probability distributions of trains and loops at impenetrable walls appear quantitatively indistinguishable, we observe an amazing dissimilarity in the probability to find a chain end or a tagged monomer of a ring at a given distance from the wall in both kinds of polymeric melts. In particular, we demonstrate that the conformational equivalence of linear chains in a confined melt to a single chain under conditions of critical adsorption to a planar surface, established two decades ago, does also hold for ring polymers in a melt of linear chains. This analogy does not hold, however, for linear and ring chains in a confined melt of ring chains. Published by AIP Publishing.

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