Self-assembled morphologies of diblock copolymers confined in nanochannels: Effects of confinement geometry
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The self-assembly of diblock copolymers confined in channels of various shaped cross sections is studied using a simulated annealing technique with the "single-site bond fluctuation" model. In the bulk, the asymmetric diblock copolymers used in this study form hexagonally packed cylinders with period L0. The cross sections of the confining channels are of different shapes including regular triangles, rectangles, squares, regular hexagons, regular octagons, and ellipses. For a given geometry, the channel size (characterized by one or two lengths) is varied from very small to several times of L0. It is found that the geometry and size of the confining channels have a large effect on the structure and symmetry of the self-assembled morphologies. Multiple packed cylinders with the symmetry of the confining channels are the major morphologies for low-symmetry cross sections such as triangle, rectangle, and square. More complex structures such as helices or stacked toroids spontaneously form when the confining channels are shaped such as a regular hexagon, a regular octagon, or an ellipse. The domain spacing of the self-assembled structures can be altered by the shape and size of the confining channels. Our results are consistent with available experiments. These results indicate that the self-assembled structures of block copolymers can be manipulated by the shape of the confining channels.
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