DOI: 10.1063/1.1699180 ISSN:

A Theory of the Linear Viscoelastic Properties of Dilute Solutions of Coiling Polymers

Prince E. Rouse
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy

The necessary coordination of the motions of different parts of a polymer molecule is made the basis of a theory of the linear viscoelastic properties of dilute solutions of coiling polymers. This is accomplished by use of the concept of the submolecule, a portion of polymer chain long enough for the separation of its ends to approximate a Gaussian probability distribution. The configuration of a submolecule is specified in terms of the vector which corresponds to its end-to-end separation. The configuration of a molecule which contains N submolecules is described by the corresponding set of N vectors.

The action of a velocity gradient disturbs the distribution of configurations of the polymer molecules away from its equilibrium form, storing free energy in the system. The coordinated thermal motions of the segments cause the configurations to drift toward their equilibrium distribution. The coordination is taken into account by the mathematical requirement that motions of the atom which joins two submolecules change the configurations of both submolecules. By means of an orthogonal transformation of coordinates, the coordination of all the motions of the parts of a molecule is resolved into a series of modes. Each mode has a characteristic relaxation time. The theory produces equations by means of which the relaxation times, the components of the complex viscosity, and the components of the complex rigidity can be calculated from the steady flow viscosities of the solution and the solvent, the molecular weight and concentration of the polymer, and the absolute temperature.

Limitations of the theory may arise from the exclusion from consideration of (1) very rapid relaxation processes involving segments shorter than the submolecule and (2) the obstruction of the motion of a segment by other segments with which it happens to be in contact. Another possible cause of disagreement between the theory and experimental data is the polydispersity of any actual polymer; this factor is important because the calculated relaxation times increase rapidly with increasing molecular weight.

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