The viscoelastic signature underpinning polymer deformation under shear flow
Entangled polymers are deformed by a strong shear flow. The shape of the polymer, called the form factor, is measured by small angle neutron scattering. However, the real-space molecular structure is not directly available from the reciprocal-space data, due to the phase problem. Instead, the data has to be fitted with a theoretical model of the molecule. We approximate the unknown structure using piecewise straight segments, from which we derive an analytical form factor. We fit it to our data on a semi-dilute entangled polystyrene solution under in situ shear flow. The character of the deformation is shown to lie between that of a single ideal chain (viscous) and a cross-linked network (elastic rubber). Furthermore, we use the fitted structure to estimate the mechanical stress, and find a fairly good agreement with rheology literature.