Activated relaxation in supercooled monodisperse atomic and polymeric WCA fluids: Simulation and ECNLE theory

Yuxing Zhou, Baicheng Mei, Kenneth S. Schweizer

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We combine simulation and Elastically Collective Nonlinear Langevin Equation (ECNLE) theory to study the activated relaxation in monodisperse atomic and polymeric Weeks-Chandler-Andersen (WCA) liquids over a wide range of temperatures and densities in the supercooled regime under isochoric conditions. By employing novel crystal-avoiding simulations, metastable equilibrium dynamics is probed in the absence of complications associated with size polydispersity. Based on a highly accurate structural input from integral equation theory, ECNLE theory is found to describe well the simulated density and temperature dependences of the alpha relaxation time of atomic fluids using a single system-specific parameter, ac, that reflects the nonuniversal relative importance of local cage and collective elastic barriers. For polymer fluids, the explicit dynamical effect of local chain connectivity is modeled at the fundamental dynamic free energy trajectory level based on a different parameter, Nc, that quantifies the degree of intramolecular correlation of bonded segment activated barrier hopping. For the flexible chain model studied, a physically intuitive value of Nc ≈ 2 results in good agreement between simulation and theory. A direct comparison between atomic and polymeric systems reveals that chain connectivity can speed up activated segmental relaxation due to weakening of equilibrium packing correlations but can slow down relaxation due to local bonding constraints. The empirical thermodynamic scaling idea for the alpha time is found to work well at high densities or temperatures but fails when both density and temperature are low. The rich and subtle behaviors revealed from simulation for atomic and polymeric WCA fluids are all well captured by ECNLE theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114901
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 21 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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