Applications of the Wormlike Chain Model in Polymer Physics: Self-consistent Field Theory
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The self-consistent field theory (SCFT) has reveived a great success in prediction of the physical properties of a variety of polymeric systems in the recent two decades. However, the traditional SCFT is based on the Gaussian chain model, completely neglecting the chain rigidity effects, which is ascribed to one of the intrinsic properties of polymer chains. This thesis concentrates on the development of SCFT in the framework of the wormlike chain model and studies the influence of the chain rigidity on the chain configuration which directly determines properties of polymer materials in the mesoscale. Firstly, considering Onsager-type, orientational-dependent repulsive interactions, we study a model for the isotropic-nematic interface in liquid-crystals. Through adjusting the ratio of total contour length L to the persistence length lambda, we consider systems consisting of molecules with various degrees of flexibility: from rods to flexible chains. Physical properties such as the surface tension, interfacial width and density- and order-parameter profiles were numerically calculated as functions of the flexibility L/lambda and tilt angle, which is defined as the angle between the interfacial normal and the nematic director. Secondly, We examine the influence of persistency on the phase diagram of AB diblock copolymers and the properties of the phase transition as a function of volume fraction, Flory-Huggins parameter and chain rigidity, covering a broad regime spanning from Gaussian chains to rigid rodlike chains. On one hand, we demonstrate that results from a Gaussian-weight based theory can be recovered in the long-chain limit, and on the other hand, we display that significant revisions to the phase diagram, due to the persistency effects, exist for shorter chains. To achieve this, an efficient numerical scheme is designed for implementing the calculations of the wormlike-chain SCFT in a full six-dimensional space.