Impact of particle arrays on phase separation composition patterns.
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We examine the symmetry-breaking effect of fixed constellations of particles on the surface-directed spinodal decomposition of binary blends in the presence of particles whose surfaces have a preferential affinity for one of the components. Our phase-field simulations indicate that the phase separation morphology in the presence of particle arrays can be tuned to have a continuous, droplet, lamellar, or hybrid morphology depending on the interparticle spacing, blend composition, and time. In particular, when the interparticle spacing is large compared to the spinodal wavelength, a transient target pattern composed of alternate rings of preferred and non-preferred phases emerges at early times, tending to adopt the symmetry of the particle configuration. We reveal that such target patterns stabilize for certain characteristic length, time, and composition scales characteristic of the pure phase-separating mixture. To illustrate the general range of phenomena exhibited by mixture-particle systems, we simulate the effects of single-particle, multi-particle, and cluster-particle systems having multiple geometrical configurations of the particle characteristic of pattern substrates on phase separation. Our simulations show that tailoring the particle configuration, or substrate pattern configuration, a relative fluid-particle composition should allow the desirable control of the phase separation morphology as in block copolymer materials, but where the scales accessible to this approach of organizing phase-separated fluids usually are significantly larger. Limited experiments confirm the trends observed in our simulations, which should provide some guidance in engineering patterned blend and other mixtures of technological interest.
author list (cited authors)
Ghosh, S., Mukherjee, A., Arroyave, R., & Douglas, J. F.