Molecular physics of a polymer engineering instability: Experiments and computation

Hassell D. G., Mackley M. R., Sahin M., Wilson H. J., Harlen O. G., McLeish T. C. B.

PHYSICAL REVIEW E, vol.77, no.5, 2008 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 77 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1103/physreve.77.050801
  • Journal Name: PHYSICAL REVIEW E
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: No


Entangled polymer melts exhibit a variety of flow instabilities that limit production rates in industrial applications. We present both experimental and computational findings, using flow of monodisperse linear polystyrenes in a contraction-expansion geometry, which illustrate the formation and development of one such flow instability. This viscoelastic disturbance is observed at the slit outlet and subsequently produces large-scale fluid motions upstream. A numerical linear stability study using the molecular structure based Rolie-Poly model confirms the instability and identifies important parameters within the model, which gives physical insight into the underlying mechanism. Chain stretch was found to play a critical role in the instability mechanism, which partially explains the effectiveness of introducing a low-molecular weight tail into a polymer blend to increase its processability.