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Open AccessArticle

Phase Behavior of Melts of Diblock-Copolymers with One Charged Block

Physics Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia
Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics, 119991 Moscow, Russia
DWI-Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials, 52056 Aachen, Germany
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Polymers 2019, 11(6), 1027;
Received: 17 May 2019 / Revised: 5 June 2019 / Accepted: 8 June 2019 / Published: 10 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Self-assembly of Block Copolymers)
In this work, we investigated the phase behavior of melts of block-copolymers with one charged block by means of dissipative particle dynamics with explicit electrostatic interactions. We assumed that all the Flory–Huggins χ parameters were equal to 0. We showed that the charge- correlation attraction solely can cause microphase separation with a long-range order; a phase diagram was constructed by varying the volume fraction of the uncharged block and the electrostatic interaction parameter λ (dimensionless Bjerrum length). The obtained phase diagram was compared to the phase diagram of “equivalent” neutral diblock-copolymers with the non-zero χ-parameter between the beads of different blocks. The neutral copolymers were constructed by grafting the counterions to the corresponding co-ions of the charged block with further switching off the electrostatic interactions. Surprisingly, the differences between these phase diagrams are rather subtle; the same phases in the same order are observed, and the positions of the order-disorder transition ODT points are similar if the λ-parameter is considered as an “effective” χ-parameter. Next, we studied the position of the ODT for lamellar structure depending on the chain length N. It turned out that while for the uncharged diblock copolymer the product χcrN was almost independent of N, for the diblock copolymers with one charged block we observed a significant increase in λcrN upon increasing N. This can be attributed to the fact that the counterion entropy prevents the formation of ordered structures, and its influence is more pronounced for longer chains since they undergo the transition to ordered structures at smaller values of λ, when the electrostatic energy becomes comparable to kbT. This was supported by studying the ODT in diblock-copolymers with charged blocks and counterions cross-linked to the charged monomer units. The ODT for such systems was observed at significantly lower values of λ, with the difference being more pronounced at longer chain lengths N. The fact that the microphase separation is observed even at zero Flory–Huggins parameter can be used for the creation of “high-χ” copolymers: The incorporation of charged groups (for example, ionic liquids) can significantly increase the segregation strength. The diffusion of counterions in the obtained ordered structures was studied and compared to the case of a system with the same number of charged groups but a homogeneous structure; the diffusion coefficient along the lamellar plane was found to be higher than in any direction in the homogeneous structure. View Full-Text
Keywords: microphase separation; polyelectrolytes; poly(ionic liquids); dissipative particle dynamics microphase separation; polyelectrolytes; poly(ionic liquids); dissipative particle dynamics
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gavrilov, A.A.; Chertovich, A.V.; Potemkin, I.I. Phase Behavior of Melts of Diblock-Copolymers with One Charged Block. Polymers 2019, 11, 1027.

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