Scattering profiles of charged gels: Frozen inhomogeneities, thermal fluctuations, and microphase separation

Yitzhak Rabin, Sergei Panyukov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations

Abstract

We calculate the scattering spectra of weakly charged, randomly cross-linked polymer gels in poor and in Θ solvents. For some values of the thermodynamic parameters, the competition between poor solubility, electrostatics, and network elasticity leads to the divergence of the structure factor at a wave vector q*, signaling the onset of microphase separation in the gel. At the transition, the random inhomogeneous equilibrium monomer density profile of the gel is replaced by a periodically modulated density distribution. Unlike all other known cases of microphase separation, partial reorganization of the equilibrium state takes place even before the onset of the transition and leads to the appearance of a peak in the structure factor. Depending on the choice of thermodynamic parameters, the characteristic wavelength of the modulation varies from microscopic to macroscopic length scales. The ramifications of our results for neutron and light scattering experiments and for studies of phase transitions in polymer gels are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-312
Number of pages12
JournalMacromolecules
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Jan 1997

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