Authors Romeis, D. ; Sommer, J.-U.
Title Binary and bidisperse polymer brushes: Coexisting surface states
Date 17.06.2015
Number 44983
Abstract In the present work, we consider polydispersity effects on a mixed polymer brush. Two types of polymer chains with different solvent selectivity being densely grafted together onto an impenetrable surface are forming a binary mixed polymer brush. Using a numerical quasi off-lattice self-consistent field method for heterogeneous chains we study the brush profile upon varying the strength of solvent selectivity (e.g., temperature) and the degree of polymerization of the two chain types (N1 and N2, respectively). For a monodisperse brush (N1 = N2) it is well-known, that the two types of polymers segregate into a two-layer structure, if the difference in solvent selectivity is increased. The state where the chains exposed to their good solvent forming the top layer of the brush can be frustrated for shorter chains and an inversion of the layering takes place. In the inverted state, the top layer is formed by long chains exposed to poor solvent covering the layer of shorter chains. By varying the solvent selectivity of the long chains we show that coexistence of the two states occurs,which indicates a discontinuous phase transition scenario for the switching process. We consider further the case of a very low fraction of short chains and find these chains to undergo a conformational transition of first order from a “coil” state, found deep inside the compact brush layer, to a “flower” state, stretching to the top of the brush upon varying the strength of the solvent selectivity. At the transition both states are found to be quasi-stable with an energy barrier of the order of the chain length in units of kBT. The discontinuous nature of the switching process by combining solvent selectivity and bidispersity can be of high interest for the creation of stimuli-responsive surfaces.
Publisher ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Citation ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 7 (2015) 12496-12504
Tags mixed polymer brush self-consistent field surface instability conformational switching smart surface coating stimuli-responsive material monte-carlo-simulation chains transition adsorption monolayers dynamics equation solvent spheres model

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