Volume 78, Number 5, June 2007
Article Number 56006
Number of page(s) 5
Section Condensed Matter: Structural, Mechanical and Thermal Properties
Published online 24 May 2007
EPL, 78 (2007) 56006
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/78/56006

Ordering polymer blend morphologies via solvent evaporation

G. A. Buxton and N. Clarke

Department of Chemistry, University of Durham - Durham, DH1 3LE, UK

received 31 January 2007; accepted in final form 25 April 2007; published June 2007
published online 24 May 2007

We present computer simulations of the phase separation dynamics in thin films of polymer blend solutions subject to solvent evaporation. We find that phase separation initially occurs at the air-film interface, where the solvent concentration is at its lowest. As the solvent diffuses through the film, and evaporates from the surface, phase separation becomes energetically favourable progressively throughout the film. However, phase separation is now initiated and directed by regions closer to the air surface which have already undergone phase separation. This, in effect, produces an ordering front which propagates through the film and leaves an ordered lateral morphology in its wake. Through computer simulations not only can we directly view this process, for the first time, but we can also predict the optical properties of the thin film as the solvent evaporates.

61.25.Hq - Macromolecular and polymer solutions; polymer melts; swelling .

© Europhysics Letters Association 2007