Molecular structure of bottlebrush polymers in melts

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Science Advances  11 Nov 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 11, e1601478
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601478

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Bottlebrushes are fascinating macromolecules that display an intriguing combination of molecular and particulate features having vital implications in both living and synthetic systems, such as cartilage and ultrasoft elastomers. However, the progress in practical applications is impeded by the lack of knowledge about the hierarchic organization of both individual bottlebrushes and their assemblies. We delineate fundamental correlations between molecular architecture, mesoscopic conformation, and macroscopic properties of polymer melts. Numerical simulations corroborate theoretical predictions for the effect of grafting density and side-chain length on the dimensions and rigidity of bottlebrushes, which effectively behave as a melt of flexible filaments. These findings provide quantitative guidelines for the design of novel materials that allow architectural tuning of their properties in a broad range without changing chemical composition.

  • Polymer physics
  • molecular dynamics simulations
  • molecular bottlebrushes
  • polymer melts

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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