Regulating block copolymer phases via selective homopolymers
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The phase behavior of strongly segregated AB diblock copolymer and selective C homopolymer blends is examined theoretically using a combination of strong stretching theory (SST) and self-consistent field theory (SCFT). The C-homopolymer is immiscible with the B-blocks but strongly attractive with the A-blocks. The effect of homopolymer content on the order-order phase transitions is analyzed. It is observed that, for AB diblock copolymers with majority A-blocks, the addition of the C-homopolymers results in lamellar to cylindrical to spherical phase transitions because of the A/C complexation. For diblock copolymers with minor A-blocks, adding C-homopolymers leads to transitions from spherical or cylindrical morphology with A-rich core to lamellae to inverted cylindrical and spherical morphologies with B-rich core. The results from analytical SST and numerical SCFT are in good agreement within most regions of the phase diagram. But the deviation becomes more obvious when the composition of A-blocks is too small and the content of added C-homopolymers is large enough, where the SCFT predicts a narrow co-existence region between different ordered phases. Furthermore, it is found that the phase behavior of the system is insensitive to the molecular weight of C-homopolymer.
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