Stress relaxation in symmetric ring-linear polymer blends at low ring fractions.
We combine linear viscoelastic measurements and modelling in order to explore the dynamics of blends of the same-molecular-weight ring and linear polymers in the regime of the low volume fraction (0.3 or lower) of the ring component. The stress relaxation modulus is affected by the constraint release (CR) of both rings and linear components due to the motion of linear chains. We develop a CR-based model of ring-linear blends that predicts the stress relaxation function in the low fraction regime of ring component in excellent agreement with experiments. Rings trapped by their entanglements with linear chains can only relax by linear-chain-induced constraint release, resulting in much slower relaxation of rings than of linear chains. The relative viscosity η(ϕR*)/ηL of the blend with respect to the linear melt viscosity η
at ring overlap volume fraction ϕR* increases proportionally to the square root of ring molecular weight Mw,R . Our experimental results clearly demonstrate that it is possible to enhance the viscosity and simultaneously the structural relaxation time of linear polymer melts by adding a small fraction of ring polymers. These results not only provide fundamental insights into the physics of the CR process but also suggest ways to fine-tune the flow properties of linear polymers by means of adding rings.
Parisi, D; Ahn, J; Chang, T; Vlassopoulos, D; Rubinstein, M
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