Universal Viscosity Behavior of Polymer Nanocomposites

JT Kalathi and GS Grest and SK Kumar, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 109, 198301 (2012).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.198301

Nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations are used to show that the shear viscosity of a polymer melt can be significantly reduced when filled with small energetically neutral nanoparticles, apparently independent of the polymer's chain length. Analogous to solvent molecules, small nanoparticles act akin to plasticizers and reduce the viscosity of a polymer melt. This effect, which persists for particles whose sizes are as large as the chain size or the entanglement mesh size, whichever is smaller, can be overcome by making the chain- nanoparticle interactions significantly attractive. Our simulations allow us to systematically organize the viscosity data of filled polymer melts, and thus provide a strong basis from which to predict the flow behavior of these commercially important class of materials.

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