Controlling effective interactions and spatial dispersion of nanoparticles in multiblock copolymer melts

Debapriya Banerjee, Kenneth S Schweizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The microscopic Polymer Reference Interaction Site Model theory is employed to study, for the first time, the effective interactions, spatial organization, and miscibility of dilute spherical nanoparticles in non-microphase separating, chemically heterogeneous, compositionally symmetric AB multiblock copolymer melts of varying monomer sequence or architecture. The dependence of nanoparticle wettability on copolymer sequence and chemistry results in interparticle potentials-of-mean force that are qualitatively different from homopolymers. An important prediction is the ability to improve nanoparticle dispersion via judicious choice of block length and monomer adsorption-strengths which control both local surface segregation and chain connectivity induced packing constraints and frustration. The degree of dispersion also depends strongly on nanoparticle diameter relative to the block contour length. Small particles in copolymers with longer block lengths experience a more homopolymer-like environment which renders them relatively insensitive to copolymer chemical heterogeneity and hinders dispersion. Larger particles (sufficiently larger than the monomer diameter) in copolymers of relatively short block lengths provide better dispersion than either a homopolymer or random copolymer. The theory also predicts a novel widening of the miscibility window for large particles upon increasing the overall molecular weight of copolymers composed of relatively long blocks. The influence of a positive chi-parameter in the pure copolymer melt is briefly studied. Quantitative application to fullerenes in specific copolymers of experimental interest is performed, and miscibility predictions are made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1098-1111
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Volume53
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2015

Keywords

  • block copolymers
  • nanocomposites
  • statistical thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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