Effects of Ionic Group Distribution on the Structure and Dynamics of Amorphous Polymer Melts

SS Mohottalalage and D Aryal and BA Thurston and GS Grest and D Perahia, MACROMOLECULES (2021).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.1c02141

Ionizable groups tethered to a polymer backbone often associate to form ionic clusters, whose features are determined by the balance of the polymer backbone and electrostatics. These assemblies impact the dynamics of the macromolecules and their ability to transport ions. Here, using investigate the effects of the distribution of ionizable groups along the polymer backbone on cluster characteristics and the resulting impacts on the structure and dynamics of amorphous random, precise, and block configurations of the SO3- sulfonate groups along the backbone with Na+ as the counterion. We find that the distribution of the ionic groups affects the shape and distribution of the clusters as well as the internal packing of the ionizable groups in the cluster and the number of unique chains that participate in each cluster, affecting the structure and the dynamics of the polymers. The signature of ionic clusters, observed in the static structure factor S(q) for all three distributions, is significantly more pronounced for the precise and blocky polymers compared to the random one. Remarkably, we find that the local mobility of the polymer segments is not only affected by the number and size of the clusters but also by the number of polymer chains associated with clusters.

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