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Are polymers standard glass-forming systems? The role of intramolecular barriers on the glass-transition phenomena of glass-forming polymers

AutorColmenero de León, Juan
Palabras claveGlass transition
Mode coupling theory
Intra-macromolecular barriers
Glass-forming systems
Fecha de publicación2015
EditorInstitute of Physics Publishing
CitaciónJournal of Physics: Condensed Matter 27(10): 103101 (2015)
ResumenTraditionally, polymer melts have been considered archetypal glass-formers. This has been mainly due to the fact that these systems can easily be obtained as glasses by cooling from the melt, even at low cooling rates. However, the macromolecules, i.e. the structural units of polymer systems in general, are rather different from the standard molecules. They are long objects ('chains') made by repetition of a given chemical motif (monomer) and have intra-macromolecular barriers that limit their flexibility. The influence of these properties on, for instance, the glass-transition temperature of polymers, is a topic that has been widely studied by the polymer community almost from the early times of polymer science. However, in the framework of the glass-community, the relevant influence of intra-macromolecular barriers and chain connectivity on glass-transition phenomena of polymers has started to be recognized only recently. The aim of this review is to give an overview and to critically revise the results reported on this topic over the last years. From these results, it seems to be evident that there are two different mechanisms involved in the dynamic arrest in glass-forming polymers: (i) the intermolecular packing effects, which dominate the dynamic arrest of low molecular weight glass-forming systems; and (ii) the effect of intra-macromolecular barriers combined with chain connectivity. It has also been shown that the mode coupling theory (MCT) is a suitable theoretical framework to discuss these questions. The values found for polymers for the central MCT parameter - the so-called λ-exponent - are of the order of 0.9, clearly higher than the standard values (λ≈0.7) found in systems where the dynamic arrest is mainly driven by packing effects ('standard' glass-formers). Within the MCT, this is a signature of the presence of two competing mechanisms of dynamic arrest, as it has been observed in short-ranged attractive colloids or two component mixtures with dynamic asymmetry. Moreover, recent MD-simulations of a 'bead-spring' polymer model, but including intra-macromolecular potential of different strengths, confirm that the high λ-values found in polymers are due to the effect of intra-macromolecular barriers. Although there are still open questions, these results allow to conclude that there is a fundamental difference between the nature of the glass transition in polymers and in simple (standard) glass-formers.
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1088/0953-8984/27/10/103101
e-issn: 1361-648X
issn: 0953-8984
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