Small-Angle Neutron Scattering Study of the Structural Relaxation of Elongationally Oriented, Moderately Stretched Three-Arm Star Polymers

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We present structural relaxation studies of a polystyrene star polymer after cessation of high-rate extensional flow. During the steady-state flow, the scattering pattern shows two sets of independent correlations peaks, reflecting the structure of a polymer confined in a fully oriented three-armed tube. Upon cessation of flow, the relaxation constitutes three distinct regimes. In a first regime, the perpendicular correlation peaks disappear, signifying disruption of the virtual tube. In a second regime, broad scattering arcs emerge, reflecting relaxation from highly aligned chains to more relaxed, still anisotropic form. New entanglements dominate the last relaxation regime where the scattering pattern evolves to a successively elliptical and circular pattern, reflecting relaxation via reptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number177801
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number16
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2021

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