Unusual contributions of molecular architecture to rheology and flow birefringence in hyperbranched polystyrene melts

Semen B. Kharchenko, Rangaramanujam M. Kannan, Jeff J. Cernohous, Shivshankar Venkataramani, Gaddam N. Babu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


With the increase in sophisticated synthesis methods, it appears that polymer architecture may be a tunable property. Therefore, the role of architecture in rheological and processing properties has received renewed attention, mainly because of dendrimer synthesis and metallocene-catalyst technology. Linear polymers and hyperbranched polymers represent two ends of branching complexity. Some previous studies have suggested that hyperbranched polymers may behave like unentangled polymers, whereas others have proposed that they exhibit the properties of soft colloids. In an effort to compare the responses of linear and hyperbranched polymers, we synthesized starlike hyperbranched polystyrenes (HBPSs) of various branch lengths and numbers of branches. The HBPSs used in this study were unentangled or weakly entangled, allowing us to study the effect of branch density more readily. Two linear polystyrene (L-PS) melts and two HBPSs were studied. Using a custom-built rheooptical apparatus, we characterized the theology and flow birefringence of these materials. To our knowledge, these are the first flow birefringence measurements on highly branched polymer melts. Our results suggest that the flow behaviour of HBPS is significantly different from that of L-PS: (1) HBPS shows nonterminal behaviour in the low-frequency theological response; (2) when the stress-optical rule (SOR) holds, the stress-optical coefficient of HBPS is much lower than those of analogous linear polymers; and (3) when the branch density is high and the branch length is sufficiently low, the SOR fails for these homopolymer melts. A significant increase in the birefringence for a given amount of stress in the low-frequency region suggests that there may be a soft core in these materials due to the strong preferential radial orientation of chain segments near the center of a molecule versus those near the periphery. The predominantly elastic response of the soft structures may be responsible for the enhanced form birefringence. Our preliminary results indicate that these materials may exhibit both polymeric and soft-colloid natures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2562-2571
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Birefringence
  • Hyperbranched
  • Polystyrene
  • Rheooptics
  • Star polymers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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