A Theoretical and Simulation Study of the Self-assembly of a Binary Blend of Diblock Copolymers
Padmanabhan, P.; Martinez-Veracoechea, F.M.; Araque, J.C.; Escobedo, F.A.
Pure diblock copolymer melts exhibit a narrow range of conditions at which bicontinuous and cocontinuous phases are stable; such conditions and the morphology of such phases can be tuned by the use of additives. In this work, we have studied a bidisperse system of diblock copolymers using theory and simulation. In particular, we elucidated how a short, lamellar-forming diblock copolymer modifies the phase behavior of a longer, cylinder-forming diblock copolymer. In a narrow range of intermediate compositions, self-consistent field theory predicts the formation of a gyroid phase although particle-based simulations show that three phases compete: the gyroid phase, a disordered cocontinuous phase, and the cylinder phase, all having free energies within error bars of each other. Former experimental studies of a similar system have yielded an unidentified, partially irregular bicontinuous phase, and our simulations suggest that at such conditions the formation of a partially transformed network phase is indeed plausible. Close examination of the spatial distribution of chains reveals that packing frustration (manifested by chain stretching and low density spots) occurs in the majority-block domains of the three competing phases simulated. In all cases, a double interface around the minority-block domains is also detected with the outer one formed by the short chains, and the inner one formed by the longer chains.Publisher Version is available at: http://jcp.aip.org/resource/1/jcpsa6/v136/i23/p234905_s1?view=fulltext
Journal of Chemical Physics
additives; self-assembly; polymer melts; polymer blends; phase diagrams; free energy; disperse systems
Previously Published As
J. Chem. Phys. 136, 234905 (2012)