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Polymers 2016, 8(5), 184;

Effect of Geometrical Asymmetry on the Phase Behavior of Rod-Coil Diblock Copolymers

State Key Laboratory of Molecular Engineering of Polymers, Collaborative Innovation Center of Polymers and Polymer Composite Materials, Department of Macromolecular Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Martin Kröger
Received: 1 April 2016 / Revised: 24 April 2016 / Accepted: 29 April 2016 / Published: 11 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Semiflexible Polymers)
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The effect of geometrical asymmetry β (described by the length-diameter ratio of rods) on the rod-coil diblock copolymer phase behavior is studied by implementation of self-consistent field theory (SCFT) in three-dimensional (3D) position space while considering the rod orientation on the spherical surface. The phase diagrams at different geometrical asymmetry show that the aspect ratio of rods β influences not only the order-disorder transition (ODT) but also the order-order transition (OOT). By exploring the phase diagram with interactions between rods and coils plotted against β, the β effect on the phase diagram is similar to the copolymer composition f. This suggests that non-lamellae structures can be obtained by tuning β, besides f. When the rods are slim compared with the isotropic shape of the coil segment (β is relatively large), the phase behavior is quite different from that of coil-coil diblock copolymers. In this case, only hexagonal cylinders with the coil at the convex side of the interface and lamella phases are stable even in the absence of orientational interaction between rods. The phase diagram is no longer symmetrical about the symmetric copolymer composition and cylinder phases occupy the large area of the phase diagram. The ODT is much lower than that of the coil-coil diblock copolymer system and the triple point at which disordered, cylinder and lamella phases coexist in equilibrium is located at rod composition fR = 0.66. In contrast, when the rods are short and stumpy (β is smaller), the stretching entropy cost of coils can be alleviated and the phase behavior is similar to coil-coil diblocks. Therefore, the hexagonal cylinder phase formed by coils is also found beside the former two structures. Moreover, the ODT may even become a little higher than that of the coil-coil diblock copolymers due to the large interfacial area per chain provided by the stumpy rods, thus compensating the stretching entropy loss of the coils. View Full-Text
Keywords: rod-coil block copolymers; geometrical asymmetry; SCFT; phase behavior rod-coil block copolymers; geometrical asymmetry; SCFT; phase behavior

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Yu, J.; Liu, F.; Tang, P.; Qiu, F.; Zhang, H.; Yang, Y. Effect of Geometrical Asymmetry on the Phase Behavior of Rod-Coil Diblock Copolymers. Polymers 2016, 8, 184.

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