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Complex microstructures of ABC triblock copolymer thin films directed by polymer brushes based on self-consistent field theory

Zhibin Jiang, Chang Xu, Yu dong Qiu, Xiaoliang Wang*, Dongshan Zhou and Gi Xue

Author Affiliations

Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, Key Laboratory of High Performance Polymer Materials and Technology of Ministry of Education, State Key Laboratory of Coordination Chemistry, Nanjing National Laboratory of Microstructures, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:359  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-359

Published: 17 July 2014


The morphology and the phase diagram of ABC triblock copolymer thin film directed by polymer brushes are investigated by the self-consistent field theory in three dimensions. The polymer brushes coated on the substrate can be used as a good soft template to tailor the morphology of the block copolymer thin films compared with those on the hard substrates. The polymer brush is identical with the middle block B. By continuously changing the composition of the block copolymer, the phase diagrams are constructed for three cases with the fixed film thickness and the brush density: identical interaction parameters, frustrated and non-frustrated cases. Some ordered complex morphologies are observed: parallel lamellar phase with hexagonally packed pores at surfaces (LAM3ll-HFs), perpendicular lamellar phase with cylinders at the interface (LAM-CI), and perpendicular hexagonally packed cylinders phase with rings at the interface (C2-RI). A desired direction (perpendicular or parallel to the coated surfaces) of lamellar phases or cylindrical phases can be obtained by varying the composition and the interactions between different blocks. The phase diagram of ABC triblock copolymer thin film wetted between the polymer brush-coated surfaces is very useful in designing the directed pattern of ABC triblock copolymer thin film.

ABC triblock copolymer; Polymer brush; Morphology; Thin film; Self-consistent field theory; Phase diagram