DOI: 10.1063/5.0180375 ISSN: 0021-9606

Anomalous segmental dynamics of supercooled polyrotaxane melts: A computer simulation study

Xiang-Meng Jia, Jiajia Zhou
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy

Polyrotaxanes, which consist of mechanically interlocked bonds with rings threaded onto soft polymer chains, exhibit unique mechanical properties and find applications in diverse fields. In this study, we investigate the anomalous segmental dynamics of supercooled polyrotaxane melts using coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations. Our simulations reveal that the presence of rings effectively reduces the packing efficiency, resulting in well-contained local motion even below the glass transition temperature. We also observe variations in dynamical free volume, characterized by the Debye–Waller factor, which shows a minimum at a ring coverage of 0.1 on threading chains. Such a non-monotonic dependence on coverage shows great consistency in structural relaxation time and dynamic heterogeneity. Specifically, the high segmental mobility of threading linear chains at large coverage can be attributed to the increased dynamical free volume due to supported rigid rings. However, such anomalous segmental dynamics is limited to length scales smaller than one ring size. Beyond this characteristic length scale, the diffusion is dominated by topological constraints, which significantly reduce the mobility of polyrotaxanes and enhance the dynamic heterogeneity. These findings offer microscopic insights into the unique packing structures and anomalous segmental dynamics of supercooled polyrotaxane melts, facilitating the design of advanced materials based on mechanical interlocking polymers for various applications.

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