We present a small angle neutron scattering (SANS) investigation of a blend composed of a dendritic polymer and a linear matrix with comparable viscosity in start-up of an elongational flow at Tg + 50. The two-generation dendritic polymer is diluted to 10% by weight in a matrix of a long well-entangled linear chains. Both components consist of mainly 1,4-cis-polyisoprene but differ in isotopic composition. The resulting scattering contrast is sufficiently high to permit time-resolved measurements of the system structure factor during the start-up phase and to follow the retraction processes involving the inner sections of the branched polymer in the nonlinear deformation response. The outer branches and the linear matrix, on the contrary, are in the linear deformation regime. The linear matrix dominates the rheological signature of the blend and the influence of the branched component can barely be detected. However, the neutron scattering intensity is predominantly that of the (branched) minority component so that its dynamics is clearly evident. In the present paper, we use the neutron scattering data to validate the branch point withdrawal process, which could not be unambiguously discerned from rheological measurements in this blend. The maximal tube stretch that the inner branches experience, before the relaxed outer arm material is incorporated into the tube is determined. The in situ scattering experiments demonstrate for the first time the leveling-off of the strain as the result of branch point withdrawal and chain retraction directly on the molecular level. We conclude that branch point motion in the mixture of architecturally complex polymers occurs earlier than would be expected in a purely branched system, presumably due to the different topological environment that the linear matrix presents to the hierarchically deep-buried tube sections. © 2016 American Chemical Society.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors express thanks for the financial support of the EU (ITN DYNACOP 214627 Marie Curie Network). They also acknowledge Drs. Q. Huang, M. Shivokhin, and D. J. Read for helpful and productive discussions on the evaluation of nonlinear rheology and scattering modeling. We also would like to thank the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) for the availability of the neutron beam time.