Free energy landscape and localization of nanoparticles at block copolymer model defects
Nanoparticle localization in block copolymer model defects is studied using self-consistent field theory simulations. In particular we study the nanoparticle free energy landscape for three different model defects: X, T, Y shape defects. Our results indicate that nanoparticles can be strongly bound to certain locations in these defects. The symmetry of the defects affects in a non-trivial fashion the “stiffness of the trap”, with the X shape defect displaying the deepest energy well. The T and Y defects exhibit orientations along which the potential energy well is rather shallow. Furthermore, we find that the free energy well is tunable by the size of the nanoparticles. Our results help to explain recent experimental observations in block copolymer templated assembly of nanoparticles. Furthermore, they may open new avenues to assemble arbitrary heterogeneous patterns with precise nanoparticle positions by carefully controlling the morphology of a block copolymer system by using directed self-assembly techniques.