Rheology of Ring Polymer Melts: From Linear Contaminants to Ring-Linear Blends

JD Halverson and GS Grest and AY Grosberg and K Kremer, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 108, 038301 (2012).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.038301

Ring polymers remain a challenge to our understanding of polymer dynamics. Experiments are difficult to interpret because of the uncertainty in the purity and dispersity of the sample. Using both equilibrium and nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations we have investigated the structure, dynamics, and rheology of perfectly controlled ring-linear polymer blends of chains of up to about 14 entanglements per chain, comparable to experimental systems. Linear contaminants increase the zero-shear viscosity of a ring polymer melt by about 10% around one-fifth of their overlap concentration. For equal concentrations of linear and ring polymers, the blend viscosity is about twice that of the pure linear melt. The diffusion coefficient of the rings decreases dramatically, while the linear polymers are mostly unaffected. Our results are supported by a primitive path analysis.

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