Cylindrical confinement of solutions containing semiflexible macromolecules: surface-induced nematic order versus phase separation
Solutions of semiflexible polymers confined in cylindrical pores with repulsive walls are studied by Molecular Dynamics simulations for a wide range of polymer concentrations. Both the case where both lengths are of the same order and the case when the persistence length by far exceeds the contour length are considered, and the enhancement of nematic order along the cylinder axis is characterized. With increasing density the character of the surface effect changes from depletion to the formation of a layered structure. For binary 50 : 50 mixtures of the two types of polymers an interplay between surface enrichment of the stiffer component and the isotropic-nematic transition is found, and a phase separated structure with cylindrical symmetry occurs, with the isotropic phase located around the cylinder axis. For melt densities the mixed nematic phase forms at the wall a layer with a screw-like structure of a tilted smectic phase. The observed behavior is tentatively interpreted in terms of the competition of the chain orientational entropy with entropy of mixing and excluded volume due to the wall.