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Published April 21, 2009 | Published
Journal Article Open

Nucleation in A/B/AB blends: Interplay between microphase assembly and macrophase separation


We study the interplay between microphase assembly and macrophase separation in A/B/AB ternary polymer blends by examining the free energy of localized fluctuation structures (micelles or droplets), with emphasis on the thermodynamic relationship between swollen micelles (microemulsion) and the macrophase-separated state, using self-consistent field theory and an extended capillary model. Upon introducing homopolymer B into a micelle-forming binary polymer blend A/AB, micelles can be swollen by B. A small amount of component B (below the A-rich binodal of macrophase coexistence) will not affect the stability of the swollen micelles. A large excess of homopolymer, B, will induce a microemulsion failure and lead to a macrophase separation. Between the binodal and the microemulsion failure concentration, macrophase separation in A/B/AB occurs by a two-step nucleation mechanism via a metastable microemulsion droplet of finite size. Our results illustrate a recently proposed argument that the two-step nucleation via a metastable intermediate is a general phenomenon in systems involving short-range attraction and long-range repulsion.

Additional Information

© 2009 American Institute of Physics. Received 19 January 2009; accepted 24 February 2009; published 20 April 2009. Financial support by the DFG within the Materials World Network Grant No. Mu 1674/4 is gratefully acknowledged. This work is also partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 20620120105) Programs.

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Published - Wang2009p2404J_Chem_Phys.pdf


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