Multiple character of non-monotonic size-dependence for relaxation dynamics in polymer-particle and binary mixtures

EM Zirdehi and T Voigtmann and F Varnik, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER, 32, 275104 (2020).

DOI: 10.1088/1361-648X/ab757c

Adding plasticizers is a well-known procedure to reduce the glass transition temperature in polymers. It has been recently shown that this effect shows a non-monotonic dependence on the size of additive molecules (2019 J. Chem. Phys. 150 024903). In this work, we demonstrate that, as the size of the additive molecules is changed at fixed concentration, multiple extrema emerge in the dependence of the system's relaxation time on the size ratio. The effect occurs on all relevant length scales including single monomer dynamics, decay of Rouse modes and relaxation of the chain's end-to-end vector. A qualitatively similar trend is found within mode-coupling theoretical results for a binary hard-sphere mixture. An interpretation of the effect in terms of local packing efficiency and coupling between the dynamics of minority and majority species is provided.

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