Spatial correlations of entangled polymer dynamics

JH Ma and JMY Carrillo and C Do and WR Chen and P Falus and ZQ Shen and K Hong and BG Sumpter and YY Wang, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 104, 024503 (2021).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.104.024503

The spatial correlations of entangled polymer dynamics are examined by molecular dynamics simulations and neutron spin-echo spectroscopy. Due to the soft nature of topological constraints, the initial spatial decays of intermediate scattering functions of entangled chains are, to the first approximation, surprisingly similar to those of an unentangled system in the functional forms. However, entanglements reveal themselves as a long tail in the reciprocal-space correlations, implying a weak but persistent dynamic localization in real space. Comparison with a number of existing theoretical models of entangled polymers suggests that they cannot fully describe the spatial correlations revealed by simulations and experiments. In particular, the strict one-dimensional diffusion idea of the original tube model is shown to be flawed. The dynamic spatial correlation analysis demonstrated in this work provides a useful tool for interrogating the dynamics of entangled polymers. Lastly, the failure of the investigated models to even qualitatively predict the spatial correlations of collective single-chain density fluctuations points to a possible critical role of incompressibility in polymer melt dynamics.

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