Dynamical Aspects of Volume Phase Transition and Pattern Formation in Polymer Gels
Some polymer gels are known to undergo a volume phase transition, i.e. a phase transition between two gel phases with different polymer concentrations. Most of the previous studies on this subject have been confined to equilibrium properties of homogeneous gels. Recent experimental and theoretical studies have revealed a number of interesting problems related to nonequilibrium states, anisotropic deformation, and inhomogeneity inside gels. These include spinodal decomposition , pattern formation on surface of swelling gels [2–5], formation of domain walls during 1st-order transition [6,7], effect of anisotropic stresses on the the volume transition , and so on. We will be concerned here with two of the topics, i.e. evolution of patterns during swelling and the nucleation of new phase at the 1st-order transition.
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