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Author ORCID ID is 0000000194943488
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  1. Preparation of thin films by dissolving polymers in a common solvent followed by evaporation of the solvent has become a routine processing procedure. However, modeling of thin film formation in an evaporating solvent has been challenging due to a need to simulate processes at multiple length and time scales. In this paper, we present a methodology based on the principles of linear non-equilibrium thermodynamics, which allows systematic study of various effects such as the changes in the solvent properties due to phase transformation from liquid to vapor and polymer thermodynamics resulting from such solvent transformations. The methodology allows for themore » derivation of evaporative flux and boundary conditions near each surface for simulations of systems close to the equilibrium. We apply it to study thin film microstructural evolution in phase segregating polymer blends dissolved in a common volatile solvent and deposited on a planar substrate. Finally, effects of the evaporation rates, interactions of the polymers with the underlying substrate and concentration dependent mobilities on the kinetics of thin film formation are studied.« less
  2. Ferroelectricity on the nanoscale has been the subject of much fascination in condensed-matter physics for over half a century. In recent years, multiple reports claiming ferroelectricity in ultrathin ferroelectric films based on the formation of remnant polarization states, local electromechanical hysteresis loops, and pressure-induced switching were made. But, similar phenomena were reported for traditionally non-ferroelectric materials, creating a significant level of uncertainty in the field. We show that in nanoscale systems the ferroelectric state is fundamentally inseparable from the electrochemical state of the surface, leading to the emergence of a mixed electrochemical–ferroelectric state. We explore the nature, thermodynamics, and thicknessmore » evolution of such states, and demonstrate the experimental pathway to establish its presence. Our analysis reconciles multiple prior studies, provides guidelines for studies of ferroelectric materials on the nanoscale, and establishes the design paradigm for new generations of ferroelectric-based devices.« less
  3. We present a combined experimental and computational study of surface segregation in thin films of nearly athermal blends of linear and bottlebrush polymers. The lengths of bottlebrush backbone (N b), bottlebrush side chain (N sc), and linear polystyrene host (N m) are systematically varied to examine the effects of polymer architecture on phase behavior. From the experiments, combinations of architectural parameters are identified that produce enrichment and depletion of bottlebrush at the polymer–air interface. These surface segregation behaviors are consistent with entropy-dominated thermodynamics. In addition, the experiments reveal conditions where bottlebrush and linear polymers are equally preferred at the surface.more » Simulations based on the self-consistent field theory (SCFT) qualitatively capture the three types of surface segregation behaviors and highlight the delicate interplay of entropic and enthalpic effects. Finally, our investigations demonstrate that controlling both entropic and enthalpic driving forces is critical for the design of surface-active bottlebrush polymer additives.« less
  4. Here, we present a generalized theory for studying the static monomer density-density correlation function (structure factor) in concentrated solutions and melts of dipolar as well as ionic polymers. The theory captures effects of electrostatic fluctuations on the structure factor and provides insights into the origin of experimentally observed enhanced scattering at ultralow wavevectors in salt-free ionic polymers. It is shown that the enhanced scattering can originate from a coupling between the fluctuations of electric polarization and monomer density. Local and non-local effects of the polarization resulting from finite sized permanent dipoles and ion-pairs in dipolar and charge regulating ionic polymers,more » respectively, are considered. Theoretical calculations reveal that, similar to the salt-free ionic polymers, the structure factor for dipolar polymers can also exhibit a peak at a finite wavevector and enhanced scattering at ultralow wavevectors. Although consideration of dipolar interactions leads to attractive interactions between monomers, the enhanced scattering at ultralow wavevectors is predicted solely on the basis of the electrostatics of weakly inhomogeneous dipolar and ionic polymers without considering the effects of any aggregates or phase separation. Thus, we conclude that neither aggregation nor phase separation is necessary for observing the enhanced scattering at ultralow wavevectors in salt-free dipolar and ionic polymers. For charge regulating ionic polymers, it is shown that electrostatic interactions between charged monomers get screened with a screening length, which depends not only on the concentration of “free” counterions and coions, but also on the concentration of “adsorbed” ions on the polymer chains. Qualitative comparisons with the experimental scattering curves for ionic and dipolar polymer melts are presented using the theory developed in this work.« less
  5. The morphologies of ABC miktoarm star terpolymer consisting of polystyrene (PS), polyisoprene (PI), and poly(2-vinylpyridine) (P2VP) were studied by combining small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering (SANS and SAXS) and transmission electron microscopy. Here we find that this system displays a rich morphological behavior including an alternate lamellar (ALT.LAM), cylinder in undulated lamellar (CYLULAM), and 3-lamellar (LAM-3) phase. While the SAXS data alone were insufficient to conclusively differentiate between possible phases, we show that the use of selective deuteration and SANS is essential to unambiguously identify the morphology. In particular, the primary peak in SANS for the miktoarm polymer containing deuteratedmore » PS was found to be lower than the next two higher order peaks. Such an unusual scattering pattern for a lamellar morphology was verified by self-consistent field theory calculations when the relative strength of the interaction between PI–P2VP over PS–PI is equal to or greater than 2 (χ IVSI ≥ 2).« less
  6. The effects of added salt on a planar dipolar polymer brush immersed in a polar solvent are studied using a field theoretic approach. The field theory developed in this work provides a unified framework for capturing effects of the inhomogeneous dielectric function, translational entropy of ions, crowding due to finite sized ions, ionic size asymmetry, and ion solvation. In this paper, we use the theory to study the effects of ion sizes, their concentration, and ion-solvation on the polymer segment density profiles of a dipolar brush immersed in a solution containing symmetric salt ions. The interplay of crowding effects, translationalmore » entropy, and ion solvation is shown to exhibit either an increase or decrease in the brush height. Translational entropy and crowding effects due to finite sizes of the ions tend to cause expansion of the brush as well as uniform distribution of the ions. By contrast, ion-solvation effects, which tend to be stronger for smaller ions, are shown to cause shrinkage of the brush and inhomogeneous distribution of the ions.« less
  7. A novel imidazolium–containing monomer, 1–[ω–methacryloyloxydecyl]–3–(n–butyl)–imidazolium (1BDIMA), was synthesized and polymerized using free radical and controlled free radical polymerization followed by post–polymerization ion exchange with bromide (Br), tetrafluoroborate (BF 4), hexafluorophosphate (PF 6), or bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (Tf 2N). The thermal properties and ionic conductivity of the polymers showed a strong dependence on the counter–ions and had glass transition temperatures ( T g) and ion conductivities at room temperature ranging from 10 °C to –42 °C and 2.09 × 10 –7 S cm –1 to 2.45 × 10 –5 S cm –1. In particular, PILs with Tf 2N counter–ions showed excellent ion conductivitymore » of 2.45 × 10 –5 S cm –1 at room temperature without additional ionic liquids (ILs) being added to the system, making them suitable for further study as electro–responsive materials. In addition to the counter–ions, solvent was found to have a significant effect on the reversible addition–fragmentation chain–transfer polymerization (RAFT) for 1BDIMA with different counter–ions. For example, 1BDIMATf2N would not polymerize in acetonitrile (MeCN) at 65 °C and only achieved low monomer conversion (< 5%) at 75 °C. However, 1BDIMA–Tf 2N proceeded to high conversion in dimethylformamide (DMF) at 65 °C and 1BDIMABr polymerized significantly faster in DMF compared to MeCN. NMR diffusometry was used to investigate the kinetic differences by probing the diffusion coefficients for each monomer and counter–ion in MeCN and DMF. Furthermore, these results indicate that the reaction rates are not diffusion limited, and point to a need for deeper understanding of the role electrostatics plays in the kinetics of free radical polymerizations.« less
  8. Mixtures of block copolymers and nanoparticles (block copolymer nanocomposites) are known to microphase separate into a plethora of microstructures, depending on the composition, length scale and nature of interactions among its different constituents. Theoretical and experimental works on this class of nanocomposites have already high-lighted intricate relations among chemical details of the polymers, nanoparticles, and various microstructures. Confining these nanocomposites in thin films yields an even larger array of structures, which are not normally observed in the bulk. In contrast to the bulk, exploring various microstructures in thin films by the experimental route remains a challenging task. Here in thismore » work, we construct a model for the thin films of lamellar forming diblock copolymers containing spherical nanoparticles based on a hybrid particle-field approach. The model is benchmarked by comparison with the depth profiles obtained from the neutron reflectivity experiments for symmetric poly(deuterated styrene-b-n butyl methacrylate) copolymers blended with spherical magnetite nanoparticles covered with hydrogenated poly(styrene) corona. We show that the model based on a hybrid particle-field approach provides details of the underlying microphase separation in the presence of the nanoparticles through a direct comparison to the neutron reflectivity data. This work benchmarks the application of the hybrid particle-field model to extract the interaction parameters for exploring different microstructures in thin films containing block copolymers and nanocomposites.« less
  9. DIM miktoarm star copolymers, composed of polydimethylsiloxane [D], poly(1,4-isoprene) [I], and poly(methyl methacrylate) [M], were synthesized using a newly developed linking methodology with 4-allyl-1,1-diphenylethylene as a linking agent. The equilibrium bulk morphologies of the DIM stars were found to range from [6.6.6] tiling patterns to alternating lamellar and alternating cylindrical morphologies, as determined experimentally by small-angle X-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy and confirmed by dissipative particle dynamics and self-consistent field theory based arguments. The thin film morphologies, which differ from those found in the bulk, were identified by scanning electron microscopy, coupled with oxygen plasma etching. Finally, square arraysmore » of the PDMS nanodots and empty core cylinders were formed on silica after oxygen plasma removal of the poly(1,4-isoprene) and poly(methyl methacrylate) which generated nanostructured substrates decorated with these features readily observable.« less

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