This theoretical study is focused on the formation of a cylindrical microstructure in a planar polymer brush in the presence of a surfactant. It is assumed that the brush may be nonuniform in the direction along the grafting plane and that there are regions with constant concentrations of monomer units and regions occupied only by the surfactant. The surfactant molecule is simulated by a dimer whose parts interact in a different manner with the monomer units of the polymer. At the interface between these regions, dimer molecules are oriented mainly perpendicularly to this interface and the surface tension is reduced. If the surface energy becomes negative, the formation of a structured brush is more favorable in terms of energy than that of a uniform brush. As a result, there may appear a cylindrical microstructure in which grafted macromolecules are united into strands perpendicular to the grafting plane. The stretching of macromolecules and their interaction with the solvent within the strands are described by the Alexander-de Gennes model, whereas the surface energy is calculated with allowance for the surface curvature of strands at a high degree of amphiphilicity of the surfactant molecules. It is shown that the arising strands have radii of the order of the surfactant-molecule length, while the number of macromolecules per strand is proportional to the surface density of their grafting. With an increase in the grafting density, the strand length increases initially, while the volume fraction of the polymer in a strand remains constant. Furthermore, strands start to shorten and their density grows. Structural characteristics are calculated as a function of the parameter characterizing the degree of amphiphilicity of the solvent molecules, their sizes, and their average energy of interaction with monomer units.
Macromolecule Polymer Science Series Monomer Unit Surfactant Molecule Polymer Brush
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