Excluded volume effects in compressed polymer brushes: A density functional theory
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A classical density functional theory (DFT) is applied to investigate the behavior of compressed polymer brushes composed of hard-sphere chains. The excluded volume interactions among the chain segments are explicitly treated. Two compression systems are used to study the behavior of brush-wall and brush-brush interactions. For the brush-brush systems, an obvious interpenetration zone has been observed. The extent of the interpenetration depends strongly on the grafting density. Furthermore, the repulsive force between the brush and wall or between the two brushes has been obtained as a function of the compression distance. Compared to the prediction of the analytic self-consistent field theory, such force increases more rapidly in the brush-wall compression with high polymer grafting densities or at higher compressions. In the brush-brush compression system, the interpenetration between the two compressed brushes creates a "softer" interaction. The influence of hard-sphere solvents on the behavior of compressed brushes is also discussed.
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