Interpretation of the Vibrational Spectra of Glassy Polymers Using Coarse-Grained Simulations

Rico Milkus, Christopher Ness, Vladimir V. Palyulin, Jana Weber, Alexei Lapkin, Alessio Zaccone*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The structure and vibrational density of states (VDOS) of polymer glasses are investigated using numerical simulations based on the classical Kremer-Grest bead-spring model. We focus on the roles of chain length and bending stiffness, the latter being set by imposing three-body angular potentials along chain backbones. Upon increasing the chain length and bending stiffness, structural reorganization leads to volumetric expansion of the material and buildup of internal stresses. The VDOS has two dominant bands: a low-frequency one corresponding to inter- and intrachain nonbonding interactions and a high-frequency one corresponding principally to vibrations of bonded beads that constitute skeletal chain backbones. Upon increasing the steepness of the angular potential, vibrational modes associated with chain bending gradually move from the low-frequency to the high-frequency band. This redistribution of modes is reflected in a reduction of the so-called Boson peak upon increasing chain stiffness. Remarkably, the finer structure and the peaks of the high-frequency band, and their variations with stiffness, can, for short chains, be explained using an analytical solution derived for a model triatomic molecule. For longer chains, the qualitative evolution of the VDOS with chain stiffness is similar, although the distinct peaks observed for short chains become increasingly smoothed out. Our findings can be used to guide a systematic approach to interpretation of Brillouin and Raman scattering spectra of glassy polymers in future work, with applications in polymer processing diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1559-1572
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Early online date13 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2018

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