Theory of nanoparticle diffusion in unentangled and entangled polymer melts

Umi Yamamoto, Kenneth S. Schweizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We propose a statistical dynamical theory for the violation of the hydrodynamic Stokes-Einstein (SE) diffusion law for a spherical nanoparticle in entangled and unentangled polymer melts based on a combination of mode coupling, Brownian motion, and polymer physics ideas. The non-hydrodynamic friction coefficient is related to microscopic equilibrium structure and the length-scale-dependent polymer melt collective density fluctuation relaxation time. When local packing correlations are neglected, analytic scaling laws (with numerical prefactors) in various regimes are derived for the non-hydrodynamic diffusivity as a function of particle size, polymer radius-of-gyration, tube diameter, degree of entanglement, melt density, and temperature. Entanglement effects are the origin of large SE violations (orders of magnitude mobility enhancement) which smoothly increase as the ratio of particle radius to tube diameter decreases. Various crossover conditions for the recovery of the SE law are derived, which are qualitatively distinct for unentangled and entangled melts. The dynamical influence of packing correlations due to both repulsive and interfacial attractive forces is investigated. A central finding is that melt packing fraction, temperature, and interfacial attraction strength all influence the SE violation in qualitatively different directions depending on whether the polymers are entangled or not. Entangled systems exhibit seemingly anomalous trends as a function of these variables as a consequence of the non-diffusive nature of collective density fluctuation relaxation and the different response of polymer-particle structural correlations to adsorption on the mesoscopic entanglement length scale. The theory is in surprisingly good agreement with recent melt experiments, and new parametric studies are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number224902
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number22
StatePublished - Dec 14 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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