Modeling Stretching-Induced Immiscibility in Nonmonodisperse Polymer Systems

QL Lei and JW Feng and HM Ding and CL Ren and YQ Ma, ACS MACRO LETTERS, 4, 1033-1038 (2015).

DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.5b00469

The behavior of polymer chains under stretching is a classical problem in polymer science. However, a fundamental question still in mist is how the stretching affects the interactions between polymer chains, especially when the tensions on the chains are unequal. In this work, we combine statistical theory and molecular simulations to study the influence of this tension disparity on the miscibility of athermal polymer systems. Through a minimal model, we demonstrate that when polymer chains of different lengths are under the same stretching disparate tension states among polymer chains can lead to either macroscopic or microscopic phase separation, depending on whether their ending points are mobile or not. Generally, the immiscibility found here is an entropic effect arising from conformational asymmetry between unequally stretched polymer chains. Our findings provide a new mechanism to explain the flow-induced demixing in polymer blends and indicate that heterogeneous structure can occur during stretching, simply as a result of nonmonodispersity in elastic polymer materials.

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