Relating Chain Conformations to Extensional Stress in Entangled Polymer Melts

TC O'Connor and NJ Alvarez and MO Robbins, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 121, 047801 (2018).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.047801

Nonlinear extensional flows are common in polymer processing, but they remain challenging theoretically because dramatic stretching of chains deforms the entanglement network far from equilibrium. Here, we present coarse-grained simulations of extensional flows in entangled polymer melts for Rouse-Weissenberg numbers Wi(R) = 0.06-52 and Hencky strains epsilon >= 6. Simulations reproduce experimental trends in extensional viscosity with time, rate, and molecular weight. Studies of molecular structure reveal an elongation and thinning of the confining tube with increasing WiR. The rising stress is quantitatively consistent with the decreasing entropy of chains at the equilibrium entanglement length. Molecular weight dependent trends in viscosity are related to a crossover from the Newtonian limit to a high rate limit that scales differently with chain length.

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