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Title: Stability of the A15 phase in diblock copolymer melts
The self-assembly of block polymers into well-ordered nanostructures underpins their utility across fundamental and applied polymer science, yet only a handful of equilibrium morphologies are known with the simplest AB-type materials. Here, we report the discovery of the A15 sphere phase in single-component diblock copolymer melts comprising poly(dodecyl acrylate)− block −poly(lactide). A systematic exploration of phase space revealed that A15 forms across a substantial range of minority lactide block volume fractions ( f L = 0.25 − 0.33) situated between the σ-sphere phase and hexagonally close-packed cylinders. Self-consistent field theory rationalizes the thermodynamic stability of A15 as a consequence of extreme conformational asymmetry. The experimentally observed A15−disorder phase transition is not captured using mean-field approximations but instead arises due to composition fluctuations as evidenced by fully fluctuating field-theoretic simulations. This combination of experiments and field-theoretic simulations provides rational design rules that can be used to generate unique, polymer-based mesophases through self-assembly.  more » « less
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Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range / eLocation ID:
13194 to 13199
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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