Nanoprobe diffusion in entangled polymer solutions: Linear vs. unconcatenated ring chains

N Nahali and A Rosa, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 148, 194902 (2018).

DOI: 10.1063/1.5022446

We employ large-scale molecular dynamics computer simulations to study the problem of nanoprobe diffusion in entangled solutions of linear polymers and unknotted and unconcatenated circular (ring) polymers. By tuning both the diameter of the nanoprobe and the density of the solution, we show that nanoprobes of diameter smaller than the entanglement distance (tube diameter) of the solution display the same (Rouse-like) behavior in solutions of both polymer architectures. Instead, nanoprobes with larger diameters appear to diffuse markedly faster in solutions of rings than in solutions of linear chains. Finally, by analysing the distribution functions of spatial displacements, we find that nanoprobe motion in rings' solutions shows both Gaussian and ergodic behaviors, in all regimes considered, while, in solutions of linear chains, nanoprobes exceeding the size of the tube diameter show a transition to non-Gaussian and non-ergodic motion. Our results emphasize the role of chain architecture in the motion of nanoprobes dispersed in polymer solutions. Published by AIP Publishing.

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