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Light Scattering Study of Internal Motions of Ultralong Comb-like Chains in Dilute Solutions under Good Solvent Conditions


Macromolecules 2020, 53, 2, 558–568



Muhammad Waqas Ishaq, Nairong HaoNairong Hao

Department of Chemical Physics, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui 230026, China

Food Science and Processing Research Center, College of Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China


Internal dynamics of polymer chains is one of the most important fundamental problems in polymer physics. This work reports the first example of a dynamic light scattering (DLS) study of internal motions of well-defined ultralong comb-like chains in dilute solutions under good solvent conditions. Using two well-characterized comb-like model samples with controlled parameters and narrow distributions (Mw/Mn ≈ 1.30 and Mw ≈ 107 g/mol), the asymptotic behavior of the reduced first cumulant [Γ* = Γ(q)/(q3kBT/η0)], the number of relaxation modes in Γ(q) distribution curves, the characteristic relaxation time (τ1) of the first internal mode, and the q-dependent relative strength of internal motions have been experimentally quantified and carefully analyzed where q is the scattering vector. Specifically, the DLS results reveal the following: (i) Γ*(q ≫ 1), that is, the value of Γ* at the very high q regime, is not sensitive to structural details (local rigidity and side chain length); (ii) similar to hyperbranched polymers, the asymptotic power law in the regime of 3.0 < (q⟨Rg⟩) < 5.5 is also found to be a better indicator, which could reflect the structural details for comb-like polymers; (iii) the comparison of experimentally determined and theoretically calculated values of τ1 shows that the classical theory of linear chains could still satisfactorily describe the intrachain relaxation behavior of comb-like chains; and (iv) the side-chain grafting-induced rigidity could result in an enhanced separation of translational and internal motions but simultaneously result in a significant suppression of the strength of overall internal motions. The present study not only reveals that the modes of internal motions of a given system are mainly determined by the relaxation of the main contour of a given chain structure rather than the local chain rigidity but also provides useful experimental data for further theoretical modeling of internal dynamics of various topological polymers.


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