Diverse Spreading Behavior of Binary Polymer Nanodroplets

D. R. Heine, G. S. Grest, and E. B. Webb III, Langmuir, 21, 7959 (2005).

Molecular dynamics simulations are used to study the spreading of binary polymer nanodroplets in a cylindrical geometry. The polymers, described by the bead-spring model, spread on a flat surface with a surface-coupled Langevin thermostat to mimic the effects of a corrugated surface. Each droplet consists of chains of length 10 or 100 monomers with similar to 350 000 monomers total. The qualitative features of the spreading dynamics are presented for differences in chain length, surface interaction strength, and composition. When the components of the droplet differ only in the surface interaction strength, the more strongly wetting component forms a monolayer film on the surface even when both materials are above or below the wetting transition. In the case where the only difference is the polymer chain length, the monolayer film beneath the droplet is composed of an equal amount of short chain and long chain monomers even when one component (the shorter chain length) is above the wetting transition and the other is not. The fraction of short and long chains in the precursor foot depends on whether both the short and the long chains are in the wetting regime. Diluting the concentration of the strongly wetting component in a mixture with a weakly wetting component decreases the rate of diffusion of the wetting material from the bulk to the surface and limits the spreading rate of the precursor foot, but the bulk spreading rate actually increases when both components are present. This may be due to the strongly wetting material pushing out the weakly wetting material as it moves toward the precursor foot.

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