The Interdiffision of Polymers

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Science  02 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4981, pp. 640-646
DOI: 10.1126/science.250.4981.640


In contrast to interdiffusion in simple liquids, interdiffusion of polymeric chains is dominated by their intertanglement and their large size. These properties profoundly reduce both the molecular mobilities and the role of entropy in driving the mixing. The resulting diffusional processes have only recently been studied. Such studies reveal a wide spectrum of behavior ranging from accelerated interdiffusion (for strongly compatible chains) to its suppression below the critical point for phase separation. Effects that are still poorly understood include the initial disposition at interfaces of the chains' ends (through which diffusion proceeds by reptation) and the need for cooperative motion, which can strongly magnify local friction.

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