Universal scaling for polymer chain scission in turbulence

Siva A. Vanapalli, Steven L. Ceccio, Michael J. Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


We report that previous polymer chain scission experiments in strong flows, long analyzed according to accepted laminar flow scission theories, were in fact affected by turbulence. We reconcile existing anomalies between theory and experiment with the hypothesis that the local stress at the Kolmogorov scale generates the molecular tension leading to polymer covalent bond breakage. The hypothesis yields a universal scaling for polymer scission in turbulent flows. This surprising reassessment of over 40 years of experimental data simplifies the theoretical picture of polymer dynamics leading to scission and allows control of scission in commercial polymers and genomic DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16660-16665
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 7 2006


  • Bond breakage
  • DNA rupture
  • Drag reduction
  • Kolmogorov cascade
  • Polymer dynamics

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