A new study conducted by the Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool has achieved a significant breakthrough in the field of polymer science. The research, published in Nature Chemistry, focuses on the use of mechanochemistry to understand the behavior of polymer chains dissolved in response to accelerated solvent flows.

Over the past 50 years, scientists have been trying to understand how polymer chains react to suddenly accelerated solvent flows. However, previous research only provided limited information on real-world systems due to the simplicity of the solvent flows studied. The Liverpool chemists, Professor Roman Boulatov and Dr. Robert O’Neill, have now developed a new approach that addresses this fundamental question.

This advancement has important implications in various areas of physical sciences and practical applications. It can provide valuable insights for polymer-based rheological control in industrial processes such as enhanced oil and gas recovery, long-distance pipeline transportation, and photovoltaic manufacturing.

The discovery challenges the current understanding of chain behavior in cavitation flows of solvents. Dr. Robert O’Neill explains that their previous understanding was too simplistic for systematic design and efficient rheological control. The team’s new method allows for the study of polymer chain dynamics at the molecular level, contributing to a better understanding of how energy flows between and within molecules.

The researchers plan to further expand their method and use it to accurately predict flow behavior for different combinations of polymers, solvents, and flow conditions. This breakthrough in polymer science opens up new possibilities for future research and technological advancements in various industries.

– Nature Chemistry (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41557-023-01266-2
– University of Liverpool