Microphase separation induced by interfacial segregation of isotropic, spherical nanoparticles


In a recent experiment by Chung [Nano Lett. 5, 1878 (2005)] and simulation by Stratford [Science 309, 2198 (2005)] on immiscible blends containing nanoscale particles, it was shown that the phase separation of the two polymers can be prevented as a result of the aggregation of the nanoparticles at the interfaces between the two polymers. Motivated by these studies, we performed large scale systematic simulations, based on the dissipative particle dynamics approach, on immiscible binary (A-B) fluids containing moderate volume fractions of isotropic nanoscale spherical particles N. The nanoparticles preferentially segregate at the interfaces between the two fluids if the pairwise interactions between the three components are such that X AB > ∫ X AN - X BN ∫. We find that at later times, the average domain size saturates to a value, L∼ RN φN, where RN and φN are the radius and volume fraction of the nanoparticles, respectively. For small nanoparticles, however, full phase separation is observed. © 2007 American Institute of Physics.

Publication Title

Journal of Chemical Physics