Implications of Grain Size Variation in Magnetic Field Alignment of Block Copolymer Blends


Rokhlenko, Y.; Majewski, P.W.; Larson, S.R.; Gopalan, P.; Yager, K.G.; Osuji, C.O. "Implications of Grain Size Variation in Magnetic Field Alignment of Block Copolymer Blends" ACS Macro Letters 2017, 6 404–409.
doi: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.7b00036


We study how grain size of block-copolymer materials influences their ability to be aligned by a magnetic field.


Recent experiments have highlighted the intrinsic magnetic anisotropy in coil–coil diblock copolymers, specifically in poly(styrene-block-4-vinylpyridine) (PS-b-P4VP), that enables magnetic field alignment at field strengths of a few tesla. We consider here the alignment response of two low molecular weight (MW) lamallae-forming PS-b-P4VP systems. Cooling across the disorder–order transition temperature (Todt) results in strong alignment for the higher MW sample (5.5K), whereas little alignment is discernible for the lower MW system (3.6K). This disparity under otherwise identical conditions of field strength and cooling rate suggests that different average grain sizes are produced during slow cooling of these materials, with larger grains formed in the higher MW material. Blending the block copolymers results in homogeneous samples which display Todt, d-spacings, and grain sizes that are intermediate between the two neat diblocks. Similarly, the alignment quality displays a smooth variation with the concentration of the higher MW diblock in the blends, and the size of grains likewise interpolates between limits set by the neat diblocks, with a factor of 3.5× difference in the grain size observed in high vs low MW neat diblocks. These results highlight the importance of grain growth kinetics in dictating the field response in block copolymers and suggests an unconventional route for the manipulation of such kinetics.