Smart copolymers near patterned substrates: surface-modulated morphologies

In the present project we are going to develop a theory and perform computer simulations in order to investigate the stability of possible microstructures of the melts of copolymers, polymer blends, and polyelectrolyte complexes in thin, free-surface films and films confined between two solid surfaces, one of which carries a chemically active pattern. The basic idea is to study novel microstructures formed in the polymer matrix through the selective adsorption interaction and the interplay between intrinsic length scales of the surface pattern and of the polymer systems. We are going to explore polymer systems, which undergo reversible transformations and, thus, can be switched forward and backward between different types of assemblies or between different types of morphologies. In particular, it is planned to study polymer-assisted generation of three-dimensional patterns by replicating two-dimensional substrate motifs via selective adsorption of designed copolymers with tunable monomer sequence distribution, multiblock copolymers, copolymers of complicated chemical structure (such as double combs), oppositely charged polyelectrolytes, etc. Theoretical approaches that will be used include field-theoretic SCMF methods, adaptive/hybrid multiscale simulations (MC/pRISM, MD/pRISM, MC/SCF), quenched-annealed models of adsorption: replica Ornstein-Zernike approach, evolutionary approaches for sequence design and pattern design, and information-theoretic-based methods.