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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.

Tube model and reptation of a polymer due to entanglement and fixed obstacles.


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.

See also: Reptation in Viscosity, elasticity, and viscoelasticity from Lectures for AP225.