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(131d) Elucidating the Role of Network Topology Dynamics on the Coil-Stretch Transition Hysteresis in Extensional Flow of Entangled Polymer Melts

Nafar Sefiddashti, M. H., University of Tennessee
Edwards, B. J., University of Tennessee
Khomami, B., University of Tennessee
Dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) simulations are performed on coarse-grained replicas of linear, monodisperse entangled polyethylene melts C1000H2002 and C3000H6002 undergoing both steady-state and transient planar elongational flow (PEF). The fidelity of the DPD simulations is verified by direct comparison of flow topological and rheological properties of a 334-particle chain liquid against the united-atom C1000H2002 liquid, simulated using nonequilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD). These DPD simulations demonstrate that a flow-induced coil-stretch transition (CST) and its associated hysteresis caused by configurational microphase separation, as observed in previous NEMD simulations of PEF, can be replicated using a more computationally efficient coarse-grained system. Results indicate that the breadth of the CST hysteresis loop is enlarged for the longer molecule liquid relative to the shorter one. Furthermore, relaxation simulations reveal that reducing the applied flow Deborah number ($De$) from a high value corresponding to a homogeneous phase of highly stretched molecules to a $De$ within the biphasic region results in a two-stage relaxation process. There is a fast initial stratification of the kinetically trapped highly stretched chains into regions of highly extended and less extended chains, which displays similar behavior to a system undergoing a spinodal decomposition caused by spatial configurational free energy fluctuations. After a short induction period of apparently random duration, the less extended chain regions experience a stochastic nucleation event that induces configurational relaxation to domains composed of coiled molecules over a much longer time scale, leaving the more highly extended chains in surrounding sheet-like domains. The time scales of these two relaxation processes are of the same order of magnitude as the Rouse and disengagement times of the equilibrium liquids.