Lattice cluster theory for polymer melts with specific interactions.

The Journal of chemical physics

PubMedID: 25084958

Xu WS, Freed KF. Lattice cluster theory for polymer melts with specific interactions. J Chem Phys. 2014;141(4):044909.
Despite the long-recognized fact that chemical structure and specific interactions greatly influence the thermodynamic properties of polymer systems, a predictive molecular theory that enables systematically addressing the role of chemical structure and specific interactions has been slow to develop even for polymer melts. While the lattice cluster theory (LCT) provides a powerful vehicle for understanding the influence of various molecular factors, such as monomer structure, on the thermodynamic properties of polymer melts and blends, the application of the LCT has heretofore been limited to the use of the simplest polymer model in which all united atom groups within the monomers of a species interact with a common monomer averaged van der Waals energy. Thus, the description of a compressible polymer melt involves a single van der Waals energy. As a first step towards developing more realistic descriptions to aid in the analysis of experimental data and the design of new materials, the LCT is extended here to treat models of polymer melts in which the backbone and side groups have different interaction strengths, so three energy parameters are present, namely, backbone-backbone, side group-side group, and backbone-side group interaction energies. Because of the great algebraic complexity of this extension, we retain maximal simplicity within this class of models by further specializing this initial study to models of polymer melts comprising chains with poly(n-a-olefin) structures where only the end segments on the side chains may have different, specific van der Waals interaction energies with the other united atom groups. An analytical expression for the LCT Helmholtz free energy is derived for the new model. Illustrative calculations are presented to demonstrate the degree to which the thermodynamic properties of polymer melts can be controlled by specific interactions.