Self-assembly in block polyelectrolytes

Shuang Yang, Aleksey Vishnyakov, Alexander V. Neimark

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22 Citations (Scopus)


The self-consistent field theory (SCFT) complemented with the Poisson-Boltzmann equation is employed to explore self-assembly of polyelectrolyte copolymers composed of charged blocks A and neutral blocks B. We have extended SCFT to dissociating triblock copolymers and demonstrated our approach on three characteristic examples: (1) diblock copolymer (AB) melt, (2) symmetric triblock copolymer (ABA) melt, (3) triblock copolymer (ABA) solution with added electrolyte. For copolymer melts, we varied the composition (that is, the total fraction of A-segments in the system) and the charge density on A blocks and calculated the phase diagram that contains ordered mesophases of lamellar, gyroid, hexagonal, and bcc symmetries, as well as the uniform disordered phase. The phase diagram of charged block copolymer melts in the charge density - system composition coordinates is similar to the classical phase diagram of neutral block copolymer melts, where the composition and the Flory mismatch interaction parameter XAB are used as variables. We found that the transitions between the polyelectrolyte mesophases with the increase of charge density occur in the same sequence, from lamellar to gyroid to hexagonal to bcc to disordered morphologies, as the mesophase transitions for neutral diblocks with the decrease of XAB. In a certain range of compositions, the phase diagram for charged triblock copolymers exhibits unexpected features, allowing for transitions from hexagonal to gyroid to lamellar mesophases as the charge density increases. Triblock polyelectrolyte solutions were studied by varying the charge density and solvent concentration at a fixed copolymer composition. Transitions from lamellar to gyroid and gyroid to hexagonal morphologies were observed at lower polymer concentrations than the respective transitions in the similar neutral copolymer, indicating a substantial influence of the charge density on phase behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number054104
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


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