Untangling polymer systems: Structure prediction in polymer networks with quenched disorder
Joint StatMech/MASCOS/COSNET seminar
by Dr Abigail Klopper
Abstract: Highly concentrated liquids comprising long polymeric chains can undergo processes of cross-linking and entanglement, giving rise to intriguing macroscopic properties. The key ingredient is connective quenched disorder, which freezes the topology of the liquid in the form of a polymer network. The translational invariance in the system is spontaneously broken and the phase space is divided into disjoint ergodic regions.
Such behaviour is well-known from a large class of systems exhibiting the so-called glassy phase, characterised by randomness and slow dynamics. This opens the door to an extensive analytic formalism for structure prediction in cross-linked polymer systems. By constructing a theoretical framework which makes use of simulation data, one can draw from these techniques without resorting to microscopic detail and otherwise unphysical assumptions. In the study presented, the spin-glass replica formalism is applied to data from molecular dynamics simulations of ideal non-interacting cross-linked polymer systems in order to describe neutron scattering measurements in interacting systems.
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