Andrzej Kolinski Research Group

Coarse-grained protein modeling

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Biomolecules — dynamics & interactions


Phenomenological Theory of Polymer Melt Dynamics


International Journal of Modern Physics B, 3:33-64, 1989


A particularly interesting problem in polymer physics is the mechanism by which an individual polymer chain moves in a polymer melt or concentrated polymer solution. The first rather successful model of polymer dynamics was the reptation model of de Gennes which asserts that due to the effect of entanglements a polymer finds itself confined to a tube. Thus, the dominant long wavelength motion of the chain should be slithering out the ends of the tube. In order to examine the validity of the reptation model, a series of dynamic Monte Carlo simulations were performed. Although the simulations are on chains sufficiently long that agreement with the experimentally observed scaling with degree of polymerization n of the self diffusion constant and terminal relaxation time is observed, reptation does not appear to be the dominant mechanism of long distance motion. Rather the motion is isotropic, with the slowdown from dilute solution behavior arising from the formation of dynamic entanglements — rare long lived contacts where a given chain drags another chain through the melt for times on the order of longest internal relaxation time. Motivated by the simulations results, a phenomenological theory for the diffusive and viscoelastic behavior is developed that is consistent with both simulations and experiment and which does not invoke reptation. The major conclusions arising from the theoretical approach are described, and comparison is made with experiment.