Dynamic scaling in entangled mean-field gelation polymers

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2006 Jul;74(1 Pt 1):011404. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.74.011404. Epub 2006 Jul 27.


We present a simple reaction kinetics model to describe the polymer synthesis used by Lusignan et al. [Phys. Rev. E 60, 5657 (1999)] to produce randomly branched polymers in the vulcanization class. Numerical solution of the rate equations gives probabilities for different connections in the final product, which we use to generate a numerical ensemble of representative molecules. All structural quantities probed in the experiments are in quantitative agreement with our results for the entire range of molecular weights considered. However, with detailed topological information available in our calculations, our estimate of the "rheologically relevant" linear segment length is smaller than that estimated from the experimental results. We use a numerical method based on a tube model of polymer melts to calculate the rheological properties of such molecules. Results are in good agreement with experiment, except that in the case of the largest molecular weight samples our estimate of the zero-shear viscosity is significantly lower than the experimental findings. Using acid concentration as an indicator for closeness to the gelation transition, we show that the high-molecular-weight polymers considered are at the limit of mean-field behavior--which possibly is the reason for this disagreement. For a truly mean-field gelation class of model polymers, we numerically calculate the rheological properties for a range of segment lengths. Our calculations show that the tube theory with dynamical dilation predicts that, very close to the gelation limit, the contribution to viscosity for this class of polymers is dominated by the contribution from constraint-release Rouse motion and the final viscosity exponent approaches a Rouse-like value.