Reptation refers to a specific type of thermal motion of long macromolecules or chains of molecules. In this model of motion, the chain wriggles around like a worm but cannot make large lateral motions. Reptation theory is strongly linked to the tube model of macromolecule motion which effectively confines the macromolecules motion to a tube.
The theory of reptation was first introduced into polymer physics by Pierre-Gilles de Gennes in the 1970's. He used the theory to describe the motion of a polymer chain in the presence of fixed obstacles. In such a system, entanglement effects have a large influence on the motion of the polymer.
- Jones, R. "The tube model and the theory of reptation" Soft Condensed Matter. Oxford University Press. 91-93 (2002).
- De Gennes P.G. Reptation of a polymer chain in the presence of fixed obstacles. J. Chem. Phys. 55, 572 - 579 (1971).