The glass transition temperature (Tg) is one of the most fundamental properties of polymers. Tg is predicted as a sudden change in a “macroscopic” quantity (e.g. compressibility). However, for systems with “soft” glass transitions where the change is gradual it becomes hard to pinpoint precisely the transition temperature as well as the set of molecular changes occurring during this transition. Here, we introduce two new molecular signatures for the glass transition of polymers that exhibit clear changes as one approaches Tg: i) differential change of the probability distribution of dihedral angles as a function of temperature, and ii) the distribution of fractional of time spent in the different torsional states. These new signatures provide insights into the glass transition in polymers by directly exhibiting the concept of spatial heterogeneity and dynamical ergodicity breaking in such systems, as well as provide a key step to quantitatively obtain the transition temperature from molecular characteristics of the polymeric systems.
Supporting Information: Molecular Signatures of the Glass Transition in Polymers