Molecular dynamics simulations were conducted to investigate the structural properties of melts of nonconcatenated ring polymers and compared to melts of linear polymers. The longest rings were composed of N = 1600 monomers per chain which corresponds to roughly 57 entanglement lengths for comparable linear polymers. For the rings, the radius of gyration squared, [linear span]R(g)(2)[linear span], was found to scale as N(4/5) for an intermediate regime and N(2/3) for the larger rings indicating an overall conformation of a crumpled globule. However, almost all beads of the rings are "surface beads" interacting with beads of other rings, a result also in agreement with a primitive path analysis performed in the next paper [J. D. Halverson, W. Lee, G. S. Grest, A. Y. Grosberg, and K. Kremer, J. Chem. Phys. 134, 204905 (2011)]. Details of the internal conformational properties of the ring and linear polymers as well as their packing are analyzed and compared to current theoretical models.
© 2011 American Institute of Physics