Self-assembly Behavior of Symmetrical Linear ABCA Tetrablock Copolymer: A Self-consistent Field Theory Study
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ABCA tetrablock copolymers offer new opportunities for design of materials with novel structures. Using real-space self-consistent field theory and simulation, we systematically examined the self-assembly behavior of linear ABCA tetrablock copolymers in a 2D space. The simulation was carried out under conditions of symmetrical compositions and interactions. We focus on the influence of chain length ratio of block A and interactions between block A and other blocks B and C on the self-assembly behavior of the copolymer system. The simulation results show that most of the structures self-assembled by the ABCA tetrablock copolymers are centrosymmetric, such as diblock-like lamella phase, two kinds of lamellae with beads at interface, two kinds of hierarchical lamella phase, hexagonal honeycomb-like phase, lamella phase with mixed BC and hexagonal spheres with mixed BC. Furthermore, we find that a novel noncentrosymmetric Janus spheres can be obtained when the interaction between blocks B and C is strong, whereas a noncentrosymmetric lamella phase was obtained at weak interaction between blocks B and C. Phase diagrams for the ABCA tetrablock copolymers with different interaction strength between blocks B and C are constructed by comparing free energies of candidate ordered structures. In addition, studies on the metastable behavior of the system reveal that enthalpy plays an important role in the metastable behavior of the ABCA tetrablock copolymer system. Our work can provide useful guide for structure control of such kind of tetrablock copolymers in experiments.
KeywordsSelf-assembly Tetrablock copolymer Self-consistent field Simulation
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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21474107). The resource provided by Computing Center of Jilin Province is gratefully acknowledged.
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