Skip to main content
Log in

Structure and linear viscoelasticity of flexible polymer solutions: comparison of polyelectrolyte and neutral polymer solutions

  • Review
  • Published:
Rheologica Acta Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The current state of understanding for solution conformations of flexible polymers and their linear viscoelastic response is reviewed. Correlation length, tube diameter, and chain size of neutral polymers in good solvent, neutral polymers in θ-solvent, and polyelectrolyte solutions with no added salt are compared as these are the three universality classes for flexible polymers in solution. The 1956 Zimm model is used to describe the linear viscoelasticity of dilute solutions and of semidilute solutions inside their correlation volumes. The 1953 Rouse model is used for linear viscoelasticity of semidilute unentangled solutions and for entangled solutions on the scale of the entanglement strand. The 1971 de Gennes reptation model is used to describe linear viscoelastic response of entangled solutions. In each type of solution, the terminal dynamics, reflected in the terminal modulus, chain relaxation time, specific viscosity, and diffusion coefficient are reviewed with experiment and theory compared. Overall, the agreement between theory and experiment is remarkable, with a few unsettled issues remaining.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references


The author thanks the National Science Foundation for support of this research, through DMR-0705745. William Graessley and Michael Rubinstein provided many useful comments on this paper. David Boris, Wendy Krause, Nop Plucktaveesak and Shichen Dou are the students that have worked on polyelectrolyte solutions and the author thanks them for their hard work.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ralph H. Colby.

Additional information

Dedicated to the memory of Professor Pierre-Gilles de Gennes; gourou magnifique et inspiration éternelle.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Colby, R.H. Structure and linear viscoelasticity of flexible polymer solutions: comparison of polyelectrolyte and neutral polymer solutions. Rheol Acta 49, 425–442 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: