Microstructuring of a polymer globule in solution in the presence of an amphiphilic substance
Microstructuring in the bulk of a polymer globule in a solution that contains dimeric amphiphilic molecules, in particular, surfactants, is studied in terms of the weak-segregation theory. An inhomogeneous structure can result from a decrease in free energy with the orientation of amphiphilic molecules in the region of inhomogeneity owing to the interaction of hydrophobic and polar parts of the molecules with the solvent. For the sake of simplicity, we discuss the case of identical second virial coefficients of the interaction of monomer units and amphiphilic molecules with different energies of interaction of the hydrophobic and polar parts of the molecule with the solvent. By comparing the free energy for different types of microstructures, we predict that, with deterioration in the quality of the solvent, there is an initial formation of a homogeneous globule followed by formation of a body-centered cubic structure; a hexagonal cylindrical structure; and, finally, a lamellar structure. For a low degree of amphiphilicity, the transition from a homogeneous globule to only a lamellar structure occurs. An increase in the concentration of the amphiphilic substance in the surrounding solution hinders the formation of a globule but facilitates its microstructuring, which is also promoted by an increase in the volume of the amphiphilic molecule and the difference in the interaction energies of its hydrophobic and polar parts with the solvent. Phase diagrams of a globule’s state at different values of model parameters are plotted.
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