Non-affine deformation of free volume during strain dependent diffusion in polymer thin films

S Mathesan and M Tripathy and A Srivastava and P Ghosh, POLYMER, 155, 177-186 (2018).

DOI: 10.1016/j.polymer.2018.09.035

We employ molecular dynamics simulations to understand the influence of non-affine deformation and recovery of free volume on the diffusion behavior of water molecules in polymers, as a function of tensile strain. This study is analogous to strain dependent diffusion of water in polymer thin films which undergo folding in response to water, which is not completely explored. Results reveal that diffusion coefficient of water molecules increases upto 20% strain followed by gradual reduction at higher strain. Non-affine deformation analysis indicates the coupled behavior of relaxation of polymer chains and recovery of free volume. Relaxation process at lower strain coalesces the free volume regions, enhancing the diffusion coefficient. Meanwhile, larger strain dissociates the highly deformed free volume regions. Interestingly, the dissociated regions undergo negligible changes in orientation and shape resulting in reduced diffusion coefficient. The above mechanisms coupled with hydrogen bonds are primarily responsible for shape change in polymer films.

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