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Oregon theory may help design tomorrow's sustainable polymer
Date:12/11/2008

liquid or gas -- to watching students disembark from a crowded bus. Any one student wanting to exit is stuck in place -- or meanders randomly in available spaces -- until other students begin moving toward the exit. As students organize into a group they become coordinated and speed their departure.

The theory addresses the often-seen subdiffusive behavior of molecules as they begin to form a glass under processing -- explaining why molecules slow and freeze into disorganized structures rather than ordering into a crystal, Guenza said. "We would really like to be able to control the properties of the material so that we can tailor the synthesis to achieve exact results."

The theory was put to the test under a variety of scenarios in labs in Germany, France and Switzerland after German plastics researcher Dieter Richter of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, a co-author on the paper, approached Guenza after a conference session and said he had unexplained data that might be explained by Guenza's theory. The unexplained data and Guenza's theory merged under examination, which included the use of neutron spin-echo spectroscopy, a high-energy resolution-scattering technique.

"If you look at just one polymer, as is the case under conventional theory, you don't see any anomalous motion," said Guenza, whose research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Petroleum Research Fund. "You don't see slowing one molecule alternating between slow and fast motion. Only if you treat the dynamics of a group of molecules together can you predict anomalous behaviors. That's what my theory can give you."

The theory now is being applied to other experiments to test its application to other anomalies, said Guenza, who is a member of three UO interdisciplinary institutes: the Institute of Theoretical Science; the Materials Science Institute and the Institute of Molecular Biology.


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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

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