Conformation and dynamics of ring polymers under symmetric thin film confinement

TR Zhang and KI Winey and RA Riggleman, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 153, 184905 (2020).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0024729

Understanding the structure and dynamics of polymers under confinement has been of widespread interest, and one class of polymers that have received comparatively little attention under confinement is that of ring polymers. The properties of non-concatenated ring polymers can also be important in biological fields because ring polymers have been proven to be a good model to study DNA organization in the cell nucleus. From our previous study, linear polymers in a cylindrically confined polymer melt were found to segregate from each other as a result of the strong correlation hole effect that is enhanced by the confining surfaces. By comparison, our subsequent study of linear polymers in confined thin films at similar levels of confinements found only the onset of segregation. In this study, we use molecular dynamics simulation to investigate the chain conformations and dynamics of ring polymers under planar (1D) confinement as a function of film thickness. Our results show that conformations of ring polymers are similar to the linear polymers under planar confinement, except that ring polymers are less compressed in the direction normal to the walls. While we find that the correlation hole effect is enhanced under confinement, it is not as pronounced as the linear polymers under 2D confinement. Finally, we show that chain dynamics far above Tg are primarily affected by the friction from walls based on the monomeric friction coefficient we get from the Rouse mode analysis.

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