Dynamics of polydisperse polymer mixtures

We develop a general analysis of the diffusive dynamics of polydisperse polymers in the presence of chemical potential gradients, within the context of the tube model (with all species entangled). We obtain a set of coupled dynamical equations for the time evolution of the polymeric densities in a form proposed phenomenologically in recent work by Clarke, but with explicitly derived coefficients. For the case of chemical polydispersity (a set of chains that are identical except for having a continuous spectrum of enthalpic interaction strengths) the coupled equations can be fully solved in certain cases. For these, we study the linearized mode spectrum following a quench through the spinodal, with and without a passive (polymeric) solvent. We also study the more conventional case of length polydisperse chains in a poor solvent. Here the mode structure is more complicated and exact analysis difficult, but enough progress can still be made to gain some qualitative insight. We briefly discuss the modifications required to allow for the presence of unentangled, low molecular weight species in the system.