Theory of end-adsorbed polymer brushes in polymeric matrices

Kenneth R. Shull*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


A detailed self-consistent field theory is used to calculate the properties of end-adsorbed polymer chains, or polymer "brushes," in equilibrium with a blend of adsorbing B polymer and nonadsorbing A polymer. The brush properties depend on χab, Na/Nb and β, where χab is the Flory interaction parameter characterizing the thermodynamic interaction between the A and B polymers, Na and N b, are the respective degrees of polymerization of the A and B polymers and kBTβ is the net attractive interaction between the adsorbing chain end and the surface. For χab=0,β≫1 and Na/Nb ≫ 1 an asymptotic limit is reached where the brush properties are completely specified by z*/Rg b, where z* is the integrated surface excess of the adsorbing polymer and Rg b is its unperturbed radius of gyration. In this strong adsorption, dry brush regime the volume fraction of adsorbing polymer at the surface increases rapidly from 0.0 to 0.96 as z*/Rg b increases from 0.0 to 1.6. For z*/Rg b > 1.6 the surface volume fraction of the adsorbing polymer is close to one and the brush profiles are accurately described by a hyperbolic tangent form where the only adjustable parameter is a width parameter describing the interpenetration of the brush and the matrix polymer. This width decreases from 2Rg b at z*/Rg b = 1.6 to 1.6R g b at z*/Rg b=3.3. For high values of Na/Nb there is an attractive interaction between opposing polymer brushes, or between a single polymer brush and a nonadsorbing surface, which can be attributed to the free energy associated with the distortion of the matrix chains adjacent to the brush. Results are also extended to cases of weak adsorption characterized by low values of β.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5723-5738
Number of pages16
JournalThe Journal of Chemical Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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