Liquid-crystal ordering and microphase separation in the lamellar phase of rod-coil-rod triblock copolymers. Molecular theory and computer simulations

Osipov, Mikhail A. and Gorkunov, Maxim V. and Antonov, Alexander A. and Berezkin, Anatoly V. and Kudryavtsev, Yaroslav V. (2021) Liquid-crystal ordering and microphase separation in the lamellar phase of rod-coil-rod triblock copolymers. Molecular theory and computer simulations. Polymers, 13 (19). 3392. ISSN 2073-4360

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    Abstract

    A molecular model of the orientationally ordered lamellar phase exhibited by asymmetric rod-coil-rod triblock copolymers has been developed using the density-functional approach and generalizing the molecular-statistical theory of rod-coil diblock copolymers. An approximate expression for the free energy of the lamellar phase has been obtained in terms of the direct correlation functions of the system, the Flory-Huggins parameter and the Maier-Saupe orientational interaction potential between rods. A detailed derivation of several rod-rod and rod-coil density-density correlation functions required to evaluate the free energy is presented. The orientational and translational order parameters of rod and coil segments depending on the temperature and triblock asymmetry have been calculated numerically by direct minimization of the free energy. Different structure and ordering of the lamellar phase at high and low values of the triblock asymmetry is revealed and analyzed in detail. Asymmetric rod-coil-rod triblock copolymers have been simulated using the method of dissipative particle dynamics in the broad range of the Flory-Huggins parameter and for several values of the triblock asymmetry. It has been found that the lamellar phase appears to be the most stable one at strong segregation. The density distribution of the coil segments and the segments of the two different rods have been determined for different values of the segregation strength. The simulations confirm the existence of a weakly ordered lamellar phase predicted by the density-functional theory, in which the short rods separate from the long ones and are characterized by weak positional ordering.

    ORCID iDs

    Osipov, Mikhail A. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1836-1854, Gorkunov, Maxim V., Antonov, Alexander A., Berezkin, Anatoly V. and Kudryavtsev, Yaroslav V.;