Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations that incorporate explicit water-mediated hydrophilic/hydrophobic interactions are employed to track spatiotemporal evolution of diblock copolymer aggregation in initially homogeneous solutions. A phase portrait of the observed morphologies and their quantitative geometric features such as aggregation numbers, packing parameters, and radial distribution functions of solvent/monomers are presented. Energetic and entropic measures relevant to self-assembly such as specific solvent accessible surface area (SASA) and probability distribution functions (pdfs) of segmental stretch of copolymer chains are analyzed. The simulations qualitatively capture experimentally observed morphological diversity in diblock copolymer solutions. Topologically simpler structures predicted include spherical micelles, vesicles (polymersomes), lamellae (bilayers), linear wormlike micelles, and tori. More complex morphologies observed for larger chain lengths and nearly symmetric copolymer compositions include branched wormlike micelles with Y-shaped junctions and cylindrical micelle networks. For larger concentrations, vesicle strands, held together by hydrogen bonds, and “giant” composite aggregates that consist of lamellar, mixed hydrophobic/hydrophilic regions and percolating water cores are predicted. All structures are dynamic and exhibit diffuse domain boundaries. Morphology transitions across topologically simpler structures can be rationalized based on specific SASA measurements. PDFs of segmental stretch within vesicular assemblies appear to follow a log-normal distribution conducive for maximizing configuration entropy.
- molecular dynamics
- wormlike micelle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemistry (miscellaneous)
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry