Hopping diffusion of nanoparticles in polymer matrices
We propose a hopping mechanism for diffusion of large nonsticky nanoparticles subjected to topological constraints in both unentangled and entangled polymer solids (networks and gels) and entangled polymer liquids (melts and solutions). Probe particles with size larger than the mesh size a x of unentangled polymer networks or tube diameter a e of entangled polymer liquids are trapped by the network or entanglement cells. At long time scales, however, these particles can diffuse by overcoming free energy barrier between neighboring confinement cells. The terminal particle diffusion coefficient dominated by this hopping diffusion is appreciable for particles with size moderately larger than the network mesh size a x or tube diameter a e . Much larger particles in polymer solids will be permanently trapped by local network cells, whereas they can still move in polymer liquids by waiting for entanglement cells to rearrange on the relaxation time scales of these liquids. Hopping diffusion in entangled polymer liquids and networks has a weaker dependence on particle size than that in unentangled networks as entanglements can slide along chains under polymer deformation. The proposed novel hopping model enables understanding the motion of large nanoparticles in polymeric nanocomposites and the transport of nano drug carriers in complex biological gels such as mucus.
Cai, LH; Panyukov, S; Rubinstein, M
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