Single-Polymer Dynamics in Steady Shear Flow
The conformational dynamics of individual, flexible polymers in steady shear flow were directly observed by the use of video fluorescence microscopy. The probability distribution for the molecular extension was determined as a function of shear rate, γ˙, for two different polymer relaxation times, τ. In contrast to the behavior in pure elongational flow, the average polymer extension in shear flow does not display a sharp coil-stretch transition. Large, aperiodic temporal fluctuations were observed, consistent with end-over-end tumbling of the molecule. The rate of these fluctuations (relative to the relaxation rate) increased as the Weissenberg number,γ˙τ, was increased.