Aging of living polymer networks: a model with patchy particles

S Iubini and M Baiesi and E Orlandini, SOFT MATTER, 16, 9543-9552 (2020).

DOI: 10.1039/d0sm01391a

Microrheology experiments show that viscoelastic media composed by wormlike micellar networks display complex relaxations lasting seconds even at the scale of micrometers. By mapping a model of patchy colloids with suitable mesoscopic elementary motifs to a system of worm-like micelles, we are able to simulate its relaxation dynamics, upon a thermal quench, spanning many decades, from microseconds up to tens of seconds. After mapping the model to real units and to experimental scission energies, we show that the relaxation process develops through a sequence of non-local and energetically challenging arrangements. These adjustments remove undesired structures formed as a temporary energetic solution for stabilizing the thermodynamically unstable free caps of the network. We claim that the observed scale-free nature of this stagnant process may complicate the correct quantification of experimentally relevant time scales as the Weissenberg number.

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