The relationship of dynamical heterogeneity to the Adam-Gibbs and random first-order transition theories of glass formation.
ABSTRACT: We carefully examine common measures of dynamical heterogeneity for a model polymer melt and test how these scales compare with those hypothesized by the Adam and Gibbs (AG) and random first-order transition (RFOT) theories of relaxation in glass-forming liquids. To this end, we first analyze clusters of highly mobile particles, the string-like collective motion of these mobile particles, and clusters of relative low mobility. We show that the time scale of the high-mobility clusters and strings is associated with a diffusive time scale, while the low-mobility particles' time scale relates to a structural relaxation time. The difference of the characteristic times for the high- and low-mobility particles naturally explains the well-known decoupling of diffusion and structural relaxation time scales. Despite the inherent difference of dynamics between high- and low-mobility particles, we find a high degree of similarity in the geometrical structure of these particle clusters. In particular, we show that the fractal dimensions of these clusters are consistent with those of swollen branched polymers or branched polymers with screened excluded-volume interactions, corresponding to lattice animals and percolation clusters, respectively. In contrast, the fractal dimension of the strings crosses over from that of self-avoiding walks for small strings, to simple random walks for longer, more strongly interacting, strings, corresponding to flexible polymers with screened excluded-volume interactions. We examine the appropriateness of identifying the size scales of either mobile particle clusters or strings with the size of cooperatively rearranging regions (CRR) in the AG and RFOT theories. We find that the string size appears to be the most consistent measure of CRR for both the AG and RFOT models. Identifying strings or clusters with the "mosaic" length of the RFOT model relaxes the conventional assumption that the "entropic droplets" are compact. We also confirm the validity of the entropy formulation of the AG theory, constraining the exponent values of the RFOT theory. This constraint, together with the analysis of size scales, enables us to estimate the characteristic exponents of RFOT.
Project description:The kinetic fragility of a glass-forming liquid is an important parameter to describe its molecular mobility. In most polymers, the kinetic fragility index obtained from the glassy state by thermally stimulated depolarization current is lower than the one determined in the liquid-like state by dielectric relaxation spectroscopy, as shown in this work for neat polylactide (PLA). When PLA is plasticized to different extents, the fragility calculated in the liquid-like state progressively decreases, until approaching the value of fragility calculated from the glass, which on the other hand remains constant with plasticization. Using the cooperative rearranging region (CRR) concept, it is shown that the decrease of the fragility in the liquid-like state is concomitant with a decrease of the cooperativity length. By splitting the fragility calculated in the liquid, in two contributions: volume and energetic, respectively, dependent and independent on cooperativity, we observed that the slope of the fragility plot in the glass is equivalent to the energetic contribution of the fragility in the liquid. It is then deduced that the difference between the slopes of the relaxation time dependence calculated in both glass and liquid is an indicator of the cooperative character of the segmental relaxation when transiting from liquid to glass. As the main structural consequence of plasticization lies in the decrease of interchain weak bonds, it is assumed that these bonds drive the size of the CRR. In contrast, the dynamics in the glass are independent on plasticization structural effects.
Project description:The glass transition in soft matter systems is generally triggered by an increase in packing fraction or a decrease in temperature. It has been conjectured that the internal topology of the constituent particles, such as polymers, can cause glassiness too. However, the conjecture relies on immobilizing a fraction of the particles and is therefore difficult to fulfill experimentally. Here we show that in dense solutions of circular polymers containing (active) segments of increased mobility, the interplay of the activity and the topology of the polymers generates an unprecedented glassy state of matter. The active isotropic driving enhances mutual ring threading to the extent that the rings can relax only in a cooperative way, which dramatically increases relaxation times. Moreover, the observed phenomena feature similarities with the conformation and dynamics of the DNA fibre in living nuclei of higher eukaryotes.
Project description:Bottom-up design of functional device components based on nanometer-sized building blocks relies on accurate control of their self-assembly behavior. Atom-precise metal nanoclusters are well-characterizable building blocks for designing tunable nanomaterials, but it has been challenging to achieve directed assembly to macroscopic functional cluster-based materials with highly anisotropic properties. Here, we discover a solvent-mediated assembly of 34-atom intermetallic gold-silver clusters protected by 20 1-ethynyladamantanes into 1D polymers with Ag-Au-Ag bonds between neighboring clusters as shown directly by the atomic structure from single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis. Density functional theory calculations predict that the single crystals of cluster polymers have a band gap of about 1.3?eV. Field-effect transistors fabricated with single crystals of cluster polymers feature highly anisotropic p-type semiconductor properties with ?1800-fold conductivity in the direction of the polymer as compared to cross directions, hole mobility of ?0.02 cm2 V-1 s-1, and an ON/OFF ratio up to ?4000. This performance holds promise for further design of functional cluster-based materials with highly anisotropic semiconducting properties.
Project description:Polymer-tethered colloidal particles (aka "particle brush materials") have attracted interest as a platform for innovative material technologies and as a model system to elucidate glass formation in complex structured media. In this contribution, Brillouin light scattering is used to sequentially evaluate the role of brush architecture on the dynamical properties of brush particles in both the individual and assembled (film) state. In the former state, the analysis reveals that brush-brush interactions as well as global chain relaxation sensitively depend on grafting density; i.e., more polymer-like behavior is observed in sparse brush systems. This is interpreted to be a consequence of more extensive chain entanglement. In contrast, the local relaxation of films does not depend on grafting density. The results highlight that relaxation processes in particle brush-based materials span a wider range of time and length scales as compared to linear chain polymers. Differentiation between relaxation on local and global scale is necessary to reveal the influence of molecular structure and connectivity on the aging behavior of these complex systems.
Project description:Chromosomes are folded into highly compacted structures to accommodate physical constraints within nuclei and to regulate access to genomic information. Recently, global mapping of pairwise contacts showed that loops anchoring topological domains (TADs), are highly conserved between cell types and species. Whether pairwise loops synergize to form higher order structures is still unclear. Here we develop a conformation capture approach to study higher order organization using chromosomal walks (C-walks) that link multiple genomic loci together into proximity chains. The data captured a hierarchical chromosomal structure at varying scales. Inter-chromosomal contacts constitute only 7-10% of the pairs and are restricted by the TAD structure of the interfacing chromosomes. About half of the C-walks stay within one chromosome, and almost half of these are restricted to intra-TAD spaces. Analysis of nested topological motifs suggests hierarchical chromosomal structure is present also within TADs. Targeted analysis of thousands of 3-walks anchored at strongly expressed genes support nested, rather than hub-like, chromosomal topology at active loci. Polycomb-repressed HOX domains are shown by the same approach to form synergistic hubs. Together, the data suggest that chromosomal territories, TADs, and intra-TAD loops are primarily driven by nested, possibly dynamic, pairwise contacts. Overall design: Unbiased shotgun sequencing of 1pg samples of chromosome conformation campture (3C) template for the assembly of chromosome walks (c-walks) on K562 and mES in addition to 3-way 4C for the assesment of active chromatin hubs (human;K562) and polycomb domains on HOX gene clusters (mouseES). Hi-C (mouseES) : in-nucleus ligation 3C; biotin fill-in was omitted. Digested with 15 µl HC DpnII (NEB 50,000 U/ml).
Project description:Nonadsorbing polymers are widely used as thickening agents for colloids. A quantitative description of the structure and dynamics of such colloid-polymer mixtures is crucial to reveal the mechanisms accounting for the desired mechanical properties. We use confocal microscopy to study colloids with three types of commonly used polymers with different architectures: linear, subgranular cross-linked, and branched microgels. All three thickeners give rise to heterogeneous colloidal dynamics, characterized by non-Gaussian displacement distributions. However, while the ensemble-averaged particle dynamics in these materials are very similar, the underlying individual particle dynamics are not. Linear polymers give rise to depletion attraction and the formation of colloidal gels, in which the majority of particles are immobilized, while a few weakly bound particles have much higher mobility. By contrast, the branched and cross-linked polymers thicken the continuous phase of the colloid, squeezing the particles into dense pockets, where the mobility is reduced and requires more cooperative rearrangements.
Project description:Stress relaxation in crystalline solids is mediated by the formation and diffusion of defects. Although it is well established how externally generated stresses relax, through the proliferation and motion of dislocations in the lattice, it remains relatively unknown how crystals cope with internal stresses. We investigate, both experimentally and in simulations, how highly localized stresses relax in 2D soft colloidal crystals. When a single particle is actively excited, by means of optical tweezing, a rich variety of highly collective stress relaxation mechanisms results. These relaxation processes manifest in the form of open strings of cooperatively moving particles through the motion of dissociated vacancy-interstitial pairs, and closed loops of mobile particles, which either result from cooperative rotations in transiently generated circular grain boundaries or through the closure of an open string by annihilation of a vacancy-interstitial pair. Surprisingly, we find that the same collective events occur in crystals that are excited by thermal fluctuations alone; a large thermal agitation inside the crystal lattice can trigger the irreversible displacements of hundreds of particles. Our results illustrate how local stresses can induce large-scale cooperative dynamics in 2D soft colloidal crystals and shed light on the stabilization mechanisms in ultrasoft crystals.
Project description:Dimple colloids with well-defined cavities were synthesized by a modified dispersion polymerization. The key step in the procedure is the delayed addition of cross-linkers into the reaction mixture. By systematically studying the effect of the delayed addition time and the concentration of the cross-linker on the resulting particle morphology, we identified the dominating driving force that underlies dimple formation. The delayed addition of cross-linkers results in colloids with a core-shell morphology consisting of a core rich in linear polymers and a cross-linked shell. This morphology was confirmed by selectively etching non-cross-linked material using dimethylformamide. With polymerization proceeding, consumption of monomers present in the swollen particles leads to contraction of the particles, which is larger for the core composed of linear polymers compared to the stiffer cross-linked shell. To accommodate this decrease in volume, the outer cross-linked shell has to buckle, resulting in a well-defined dimple. Furthermore, we extended the procedure to incorporate functional monomers, yielding chemically modifiable dimple particles. Subsequently, we showed that by leveraging the core-shell structure, these dimple particles can be used to prepare dumbbell-shaped colloids with one hollow and one solid lobe. These partially hollow anisotropic particles assemble into strings with well-defined orientations in an alternating current electric field.
Project description:We present computer simulations of concentrated solutions of unknotted nonconcatenated semiflexible ring polymers. Unlike in their flexible counterparts, shrinking involves a strong energetic penalty, favoring interpenetration and clustering of the rings. We investigate the slow dynamics of the centers-of-mass of the rings in the amorphous cluster phase, consisting of disordered columns of oblate rings penetrated by bundles of prolate ones. Scattering functions reveal a striking decoupling of self- and collective motions. Correlations between centers-of-mass exhibit slow relaxation, as expected for an incipient glass transition, indicating the dynamic arrest of the cluster positions. However, self-correlations decay at much shorter time scales. This feature is a manifestation of the fast, continuous exchange and diffusion of the individual rings over the matrix of clusters. Our results reveal a novel scenario of glass formation in a simple monodisperse system, characterized by self-collective decoupling, soft caging, and mild dynamic heterogeneity.
Project description:The current understanding of the synthesis mechanisms of noble metal clusters is limited, in particular for Ag clusters. Here, we present a detailed investigation into the synthesis process of atomically monodisperse Ag29 clusters, prepared via reduction of AgNO3 in the presence of dithiolate ligands. Using optical spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and X-ray spectroscopy, it was determined that the synthesis involves a rapid nucleation and growth to species with up to a few hundred Ag atoms. From these larger species, Ag29 clusters are formed and their concentration increases steadily over time. Oxygen plays an important role in the etching of large particles to Ag29. No other stable Ag cluster species are observed at any point during the synthesis.