Effect of the number and placement of polymer tethers on the structure of concentrated solutions and melts of hybrid nanoparticles

Arthi Jayaraman, Kenneth S. Schweizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have generalized and applied the microscopic polymer reference interaction site model theory to study intermolecular pair correlation functions and collective structure factors of concentrated solutions and melts of spherical nanoparticles carrying one, two, or four tethered polymer chains. A complex interplay of entropy (translational, conformational, and packing) and enthalpy (particle-particle attraction) leads to different structural arrangements with distinctive small- and wide-angle scattering signatures. Strong concentration fluctuations indicative of aggregate formation and/or a tendency for microphase separation occur as the total packing fraction and/or particle-particle attraction strength increase. In analogy with block copolymers, the microphase spinodal curve is estimated by extrapolation of the inverse of the amplitude of the small-angle scattering peak. As the number of tethered chains on nanoparticles increases, the microphase separation boundary spinodal occurs at higher particle-particle attraction strength or lower temperature. For nanoparticles with two tethers, increasing the angle between the attached chains shifts the microphase spinodal to lower temperatures. For nanoparticles with four tethers, the structural correlations are insensitive to various symmetric placements. The tendency for microphase transition is enhanced upon asymmetrically placing all four tethers on one side of the particle due to the high anisotropy of steric hindrance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11119-11130
Number of pages12
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 7 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

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