Dynamic structure of unentangled polymer chains in the vicinity of non- attractive nanoparticles

Y Li and M Kroger and WK Liu, SOFT MATTER, 10, 1723-1737 (2014).

DOI: 10.1039/c3sm51564h

Using coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation, we study the motion of unentangled polymer chains dynamically confined by non-attractive nanoparticles (NPs). Both normal mode and dynamic structure factor S(q, t) analysis are adopted to analyze chain's dynamics. Relaxation behaviors of chains are found to be significantly slowed down by NPs. The relaxation times of chain's normal modes are monotonically increasing with the NP volume fraction phi. At the same time, chains' dynamics are becoming non-Gaussian. Inspection of S(q, t) reveals that chain's dynamics can be attributed to two 'phases', a bulk polymer phase and a confined polymer phase between NPs. The dynamics of a confined polymer is slower than that of a bulk polymer, while still exhibiting high mobility. The amount of the bulk polymer phase is found to exponentially decay with increasing phi. With this figure at hand, we establish a simple relationship between NP and confined/interphase polymer volume fractions. This work seems to provide the first quantitative prediction on the relationship between NP and confined/interphase polymer volume fractions.

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