We present a method to map the full equilibrium distribution of the primitive-path (PP) length, obtained from multi-chain simulations of polymer melts, onto a single-chain mean-field 'target' model. Most previous works used the Doi-Edwards tube model as a target. However, the average number of monomers per PP segment, obtained from multi-chain PP networks, has consistently shown a discrepancy of a factor of two with respect to tube-model estimates. Part of the problem is that the tube model neglects fluctuations in the lengths of PP segments, the number of entanglements per chain and the distribution of monomers among PP segments, while all these fluctuations are observed in multi-chain simulations. Here we use a recently proposed slip-link model, which includes fluctuations in all these variables as well as in the spatial positions of the entanglements. This turns out to be essential to obtain qualitative and quantitative agreement with the equilibrium PP-length distribution obtained from multi-chain simulations. By fitting this distribution, we are able to determine two of the three parameters of the model, which govern its equilibrium properties. This mapping is executed for four different linear polymers and for different molecular weights. The two parameters are found to depend on chemistry, but not on molecular weight. The model predicts a constant plateau modulus minus a correction inversely proportional to molecular weight. The value for well-entangled chains, with the parameters determined ab initio, lies in the range of experimental data for the materials investigated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)