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Quantifying molecular deformation in polymer melts by a generalized Zimm plot approach

Publication Type
Journal Name
Journal of Applied Crystallography
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1168 to 1179

The Zimm plot has been widely used to characterize the molecular dimensions of polymers from small-angle scattering experiments, where the reciprocal intensity is analyzed as a function of the square of the magnitude of the scattering wavevector Q. This work explores the benefits of analyzing the reciprocal scattering intensity from deformed polymers, extending the original Zimm plot to anisotropic materials. In the small-angle limit, a tensorial extension of the Guinier law is found for the gyration tensor and the reciprocal single-chain structure factor. In the high-Q limit, application of the spherical harmonic expansion technique to the reciprocal structure factor permits direct model-independent analysis of spatially dependent molecular deformation of polymers. Additionally, the contributions from high-order spherical harmonics become insignificant in the reciprocal-intensity representation. The proposed generalized Zimm plot approach is demonstrated computationally with the affine deformation model and the Rouse model, and experimentally with small-angle neutron scattering measurements of deformed polystyrene melts.