Local Effects of Ring Topology Observed in Polymer Conformation and Dynamics by Neutron Scattering-A Review

Valeria Arrighi, Julia S. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


The physical properties of polymers depend on a range of both structural and chemical parameters, and in particular, on molecular topology. Apparently simple changes such as joining chains at a point to form stars or simply joining the two ends to form a ring can profoundly alter molecular conformation and dynamics, and hence properties. Cyclic polymers, as they do not have free ends, represent the simplest model system where reptation is completely suppressed. As a consequence, there exists a considerable literature and several reviews focused on high molecular weight cyclics where long range dynamics described by the reptation model comes into play. However, this is only one area of interest. Consideration of the conformation and dynamics of rings and chains, and of their mixtures, over molecular weights ranging from tens of repeat units up to and beyond the onset of entanglements and in both solution and melts has provided a rich literature for theory and simulation. Experimental work, particularly neutron scattering, has been limited by the difficulty of synthesizing well-characterized ring samples, and deuterated analogues. Here in the context of the broader literature we review investigations of local conformation and dynamics of linear and cyclic polymers, concentrating on poly(dimethyl siloxane) (PDMS) and covering a wide range of generally less high molar masses. Experimental data from small angle neutron scattering (SANS) and quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS), including Neutron Spin Echo (NSE), are compared to theory and computational predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1884
Issue number9
Early online date21 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


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