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Published December 15, 1999 | Published
Journal Article Open

Transient instability upon temperature quench in weakly ordered block copolymers


We report a novel transient instability upon temperature quench in weakly ordered block copolymer microphases possessing a soft direction or directions, such as the lamellar and hexagonal cylinder (HEX) phases. We show that reequilibration of the order parameter is accompanied by transient long wavelength undulation of the layers or cylinders—with an initial wavelength that depends on the depth of the temperature quench—that eventually disappears as the structure reaches its equilibrium at the new temperature. Such undulation leads to a transient transverse broadening of the scattering peaks near the Bragg positions. We argue that this instability might be responsible for the experimentally observed unusual ordering dynamics of the HEX phase of a diblock copolymer after quenching from the disordered state.

Additional Information

©1999 American Institute of Physics. (Received 22 July 1999; accepted 17 September 1999) We thank Professors N.P. Balsara, M. Muthukumar, and M. Cross for helpful discussions. We particularly thank Professor N.P. Balsara for explaining his experimental findings in Ref. 34 to us which in large part provide the impetus for our work. Financial support from the National Science Foundation DMR-9531914), the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation (TC-96-063), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (BR-3508), and the Department of Energy (BES, through Professor A. K. Chakraborty at UC Berkeley) is gratefully acknowledged.

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