Polymer brushes under shear: Molecular dynamics simulations compared to experiments

Manjesh K. Singh, Patrick Ilg, Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal, Martin Kröger, Nicholas D. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surfaces coated with polymer brushes in a good solvent are known to exhibit excellent tribological properties. We have performed coarse-grained equilibrium and nonequilibrium molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate dextran polymer brushes in an aqueous environment in molecular detail. In a first step, we determined simulation parameters and units by matching experimental results for a single dextran chain. Analyzing this model when applied to a multichain system, density profiles of end-tethered polymer brushes obtained from equilibrium MD simulations compare very well with expectations based on self-consistent field theory. Simulation results were further validated against and correlated with available experimental results. The simulated compression curves (normal force as a function of surface separation) compare successfully with results obtained with a surface forces apparatus. Shear stress (friction) obtained via nonequilibrium MD is contrasted with nanoscale friction studies employing colloidal-probe lateral force microscopy. We find good agreement in the hydrodynamic regime and explain the observed leveling-off of the friction forces in the boundary regime by means of an effective polymer-wall attraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4798-4805
Number of pages8
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 28 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

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