Hyperbranched molecules like low-density polyethylene (ldPE) adopt a huge variety of molecular architectures. Previous work has shown that it is possible to computationally synthesize these architectures and to characterize them according to radius of gyration. Here, a method is presented and applied on ldPE to characterize populations using rheological quantities in terms of comb-shaped and Cayley tree structures. Interbranch segments are assigned seniority and priority values that quantify their behavior in relaxation and elastic deformation processes. New general-purpose algorithms have been developed to derive the full bivariate seniority/priority distribution using a representation from the graph theory of branched architectures. This paper describes the computation of bivariate chain length/degree of branching distributions (CLD/DBD) using a Galerkin finite element method for two scission mechanisms: linear and topological scission. The DBD is calculated using pseudo-distributions. Random scission is treated with fragment length and branch point redistribution functions as obtained from scission statistics of branched molecules, preferentially yielding short and long fragments. Reactor populations of ldPE architectures are then obtained using computational synthesis. The seniority and priority distributions calculated indeed prove to be an adequate characterization method. They show good comparison, although not a complete overlap, with size characterization using a variant of the radius of gyration. It was possible to calculate a full bivariate seniority/priority fraction distribution, but due to the limited sample size its surface was not smooth. Subsequent work has shown the consequences for the prediction of rheological properties.
- radical polymerization