Droplet phase in a nonlocal isoperimetric problem under confinement Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We address small volume-fraction asymptotic properties of a nonlocal isoperimetric functional with a confinement term, derived as the sharp interface limit of a variational model for self-assembly of diblock copolymers under confinement by nanoparticle inclusion. We introduce a small parameter $\eta$ to represent the size of the domains of the minority phase, and study the resulting droplet regime as $\eta\to 0$. By considering confinement densities which are spatially variable and attain a nondegenerate maximum, we present a two-stage asymptotic analysis wherein a separation of length scales is captured due to competition between the nonlocal repulsive and confining attractive effects in the energy. A key role is played by a parameter $M$ which gives the total volume of the droplets at order $\eta^3$ and its relation to existence and non-existence of Gamow's Liquid Drop model on $\mathbb{R}^3$. For large values of $M$, the minority phase splits into several droplets at an intermediate scale $\eta^{1/3}$, while for small $M$ minimizers form a single droplet converging to the maximum of the confinement density.