We discuss the thermal motion of colloidal particles in transient polymer networks. For particles that are physically bound to the surrounding chains, light-scattering experiments reveal that the submillisecond dynamics changes from diffusive to Rouse-like upon crossing the network formation threshold. Particles that are not bound do not show such a transition. At longer time scales the mean-square displacement (MSD) exhibits a caging plateau and, ultimately, a slow diffusive motion. The slow diffusion at longer time scales can be related to the macroscopic viscosity of the polymer solutions. Expressions that relate the caging plateau to the macroscopic network elasticity are found to fail for the cases presented here. The typical Rouse scaling of the MSD with the square root of time, as found in experiments at short time scales, is explained by developing a bead-spring model of a large colloidal particle connected to several polymer chains. The resulting analytical expressions for the MSD of the colloidal particle are shown to be consistent with experimental findings.
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