Fluctuations effects in diblock copolymer fluids: Comparison of theories and experiment

Marina Guenza, Kenneth S. Schweizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The analytic Polymer Reference Interaction Site Model (PRISM) theory of structurally and interaction symmetric Gaussian diblock copolymer fluids is reformulated, extended, and applied to make predictions for experimentally observable equilibrium properties of the disordered state. These include the temperature, degree of polymerization, copolymer composition, and polymer density or concentration dependences of the peak scattering intensity, effective chi-parameter, and heat capacity. The location of the order-disorder transition is empirically estimated based on the disordered, strongly fluctuating state scattering function. Detailed numerical applications of PRISM theory demonstrates it provides an excellent and consistent description of the data. An in depth comparison of the mathematical structure and predictions of PRISM theory with the highly coarse-grained, incompressible Brazovski-Leibler-Fredrickson-Helfand (BLFH) fluctuation corrected field theory is also carried out. Under some conditions (nearly symmetric composition, high melt densities, moderate temperatures) there are striking mathematical similarities between the predictions of the physically very different theories, although quantitative differences always persist. However, for strongly asymmetric copolymer compositions, short chains, compressible copolymer solutions, and low temperatures many qualitative differences emerge. The possibility of multiple, self-consistent fluctuation feedback mechanisms within the most general PRISM approach are identified, their qualitative features discussed, and contrasted with alternative versions of the fluctuation-corrected incompressible field theories due to BLFH and Stepanow. The predictions of PRISM and BLFH theory for the composition, copolymer density, temperature, and molecular weight dependence of the effective chi-parameter are presented, contrasted, and qualitatively compared with recent experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7391-7410
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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