Bottlebrush polymers in the melt and polyelectrolytes in solution share common structural features
Joel M. Sarapas, Tyler B. Martin, Alexandros Chremos, Jack F. Douglas, Kathryn L. Beers
Uncharged bottlebrush polymer melts and highly charged polyelectrolytes in solution exhibit correlation peaks in scattering measurements and simulations. Given the striking superficial similarities of these scattering features, there may be a deeper structural interrelationship in these chemically different classes of materials. Correspondingly, we constructed a library of isotopically labeled bottlebrush molecules and measured the bottlebrush correlation peak position q* =2π=ξ by neutron scattering and in simulations. We find that the correlation length scales with the backbone concentration, ξ ∼c−0.47 BB , in striking accord with the scaling of ξ with polymer concentration cP in semidilute polyelectrolyte solutions (ξ∼c−1=2 P ). The bottlebrush correlation peak broadens with decreasing grafting density, similar to increasing salt concentration in polyelectrolyte solutions. ξ also scales with sidechain length to a power in the range of 0.350.44, suggesting that the sidechains are relatively collapsed in comparison to the bristlelike configurations often imagined for bottlebrush polymers.