Self-consistent field theory for obligatory coassembly

I.K. Voets, F.A.M. Leermakers

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    13 Citations (Scopus)


    We present a first-order model for obligatory coassembly of block copolymers via an associative driving force in a nonselective solvent, making use of the classical self-consistent field (SCF) theory. The key idea is to use a generic associative driving force to bring two polymer blocks together into the core of the micelle and to employ one block of the copolymer(s) to provide a classical stopping mechanism for micelle formation. The driving force is generated by assuming a negative value for the relevant short-range Flory-Huggins interaction parameter. Hence, the model may be adopted to study micellization via H bonding, acceptor-donor interactions, and electrostatic interactions. Here, we limit ourselves to systems that resemble experimental ones where the mechanism of coassembly is electrostatic attraction leading to charge compensation. The resulting micelles are termed complex coacervate core micelles (CCCMs). We show that the predictions are qualitatively consistent with a wide variety of experimentally observed phenomena, even though the model does not yet account for the charges explicitly. For example, it successfully mimics the effect of salt on CCCMs. In the absence of salt CCCMs are far more stable than in excess salt, where the driving force for self-assembly is screened. The main limitations of the SCF model are related to the occurrence of soluble complexes, i.e., soluble, charged particles that coexist with the CCCMs
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number061801
    Number of pages15
    JournalPhysical Review. E, Statistical nonlinear, and soft matter physics
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • coacervate core micelles
    • statistical thermodynamics
    • association colloids
    • diblock copolymer
    • aqueous-solutions
    • block-copolymers
    • polyelectrolyte
    • complexes

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