Article

Unusual thermal diffusion in polymer solutions

Department of Physics, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, United States
Physical Review Letters (Impact Factor: 7.73). 01/2004; 91(24):245501. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.91.245501
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Thermal diffusion forced Rayleigh scattering results on thermal diffusion of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) in ethanol/water mixtures are presented. In water-rich solvent mixtures, PEO is found to migrate towards regions of lower temperature. This is typical for polymer solutions and corresponds to a positive Soret coefficient of PEO. In solvent mixtures with low water content, however, the polymer is found to migrate towards higher temperatures, corresponding to a negative Soret coefficient of PEO in ethanol-rich solutions. To our knowledge, this is the first observed sign change of the Soret coefficient of a polymer in solution. We also present a simple lattice model for the polymer solvent system and calculate Soret coefficients with statistical mechanics methods. The calculated values agree qualitatively with the experimental results.

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