Molecular simulation of nucleation in polymers
Wicks, Thomas J. (2016) Molecular simulation of nucleation in polymers. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
We develop several new algorithms using molecular simulation to investigate the nucleation barrier of a single, freely-jointed polymer chain. In the first part of the thesis, we use a free particle model to develop a new biasing technique, which uses an automated feedback mechanism to overcome the poor sampling of crystal states in a thermodynamic system. Our feedback technique does not require any prior knowledge of the nucleation barrier and enables good representative sampling of all available states of interest. In the second part of the thesis, we simulate the nucleation barrier of the single, freely-jointed, square-well chain. We use our feedback technique and parallel tempering with a nonstandard temperature distribution to overcome poor sampling of crystal states and configuration mixing issues respectively. We also provide some comparative analysis of different choices of configurational order parameters for the single chain. Finally, we apply stretching to the chain to approximate flow-induced crystallisation and investigate the effect of different degrees of stretch on the nucleation barrier.
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