We present a theoretical study of the organization of photoreactive polymer blends under irradiation by multiple arrays of intersecting optical beams. In a simulated medium possessing an integrated intensity-dependent refractive index, optical beams undergo self-focusing and reduced divergence. A corresponding intensity-dependent increase in molecular weight induces polymer blend instability and consequent phase separation, whereby the medium can evolve into an intersecting waveguide lattice structure, comprising high refractive index cylindrical cores and a surrounding low refractive index medium (cladding). We conduct simulations for two propagation angles and a range of thermodynamic, kinetic, and polymer blend parameters to establish correlations to structure and morphology. We show that spatially correlated structures, namely, those that have a similar intersecting three-dimensional (3D) pattern as the arrays of intersecting optical beams, are achieved via a balance between the competitive processes of photopolymerization rate and phase separation dynamics. A greater intersection angle of the optical beams leads to higher correlations between structures and the optical beam pattern and a wider parameter space that achieves correlated structures. This work demonstrates the potential to employ complex propagating light patterns to create 3D organized structures in multicomponent photoreactive soft systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films