Effect of copolymer sequence on structure and relaxation times near a nanoparticle surface†
We simulate a simple nanocomposite consisting of a single spherical nanoparticle surrounded by coarse-grained polymer chains. The polymers are composed of two different monomer types that differ only in their interaction strengths with the nanoparticle. We examine the effect of adjusting copolymer sequence on the structure as well as the end-to-end vector autocorrelation, bond vector autocorrelation, and self-intermediate scattering function relaxation times as a function of distance from the nanoparticle surface. We show how the range and magnitude of the interphase of slowed dynamics surrounding the nanoparticle depend strongly on sequence blockiness. We find that, depending on block length, blocky copolymers can have faster or slower dynamics than a random copolymer. Certain blocky copolymer sequences lead to relaxation times near the nanoparticle surface that are slower than those of either homopolymer system. Thus, tuning copolymer sequence could allow for significant control over the nanocomposite behavior.