A Recent Study Shows How Polymer Molecules Relax After Stressful Processing

A recent study published in the journal Physical Review Letters has shown that polymers need time to de-stress after a processing. Chemical and Biomedical engineering professor, Charles Schroeder and graduate student Peter Zhou came up with the research.

The research shows that single polymers come together to give synthetic materials macroscopic properties such as viscosity and tensile strength. Polymers, therefore, need time to relax after going through processing.

The study, which was written, by Charles Schroeder and his undergraduate student was carried out at Advanced Science and Technology Hub in the University of Illinois. In the study, To observe individual polymer molecules relaxation after stretching, pulling, and squeezing that results from the manufacturing process, the scientists used single-molecule fluorescence microscopy technique.

They concluded that the polymer’s molecules while relaxing exhibit one of the two distinct relaxation modes. Peter Zhou further explained that one group of polymers relaxed via a single decaying exponential rate while the other group decayed through a two-phase process. The second population undergoes a quick initial refraction followed by a slow eventual relaxation.

The scientists used a high molecular weight DNA since it easily represented all another form of polymers out there. DNA was also used since it is a large molecule and the chains are big enough for observation through microscopic imaging.

Zhou went ahead and said, “We are not certain why the single-mode relaxation or fast-retraction mode seems to be concentration-dependent, but it may have to do with enhanced interpolymer friction – the more polymers, the higher the chance they will interact, especially out of equilibrium.”

The study would help more in understanding industrially produced polymers and therefore lead to efficiency in the manufacture of synthetic material.

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