Self-Assembly of Star-Polymer-Attached Nanospheres for Polymer Nanocomposites

LS Cheng and DP Cao, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 114, 5732-5740 (2010).

DOI: 10.1021/jp908421q

Self-assembly is a versatile approach for the preparation of polymer nanocomposites with prescribed morphologies in the high-technology applications. Here, we use a Brownian dynamics (BD) method to explore the self-assembly of star-polymer-attached nanospheres and propose that a star polymer attached to the nanosphere brings anisotropy and induces the formation of polymer nanocomposites with different morphologies. These morphologies include hollow sphere, porous structure, lamella, perforated lamella with star polymer through nanosphere, and cylinder- like nanosphere, core shell micelle, gyroid-like network, and star- polymer-formed cylindrical structure, depending on temperature, concentration, and nanosphere size. To give a framework of these mesostructures, a temperature versus concentration phase diagram is presented for each case of nanospheres. In order to better understand the self-assembly of star-polymer-attached nanospheres, we also explore the mechanism of the formation of these morphologies by examining the packing details of star polymers. It is expected that this work would provide useful information for engineering novel polymer nanocomposite materials by means of the mesophase self-assembly.

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