The microscopic polymer reference interaction site model theory is generalized and applied to study intermolecular pair correlation functions and collective structure factors of dense solutions and melts of spherical nanoparticles carrying a single tethered chain. The 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. For nanoparticles that are twice the diameter of monomers, the microphase separation boundary spinodal occurs at higher particle-particle attraction strength (or lower temperature) as compared to the macrophase demixing curve for nanoparticles with no tethers when the packing fraction is below 0.45, while the opposite trend is observed above 0.45. Increasing nanoparticle diameter results in a reduction in the microphase spinodal temperature and a qualitative change in its packing fraction dependence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry