Mathematical Paradigms for Periodic Phase Separation and Self-Assembly of Diblock Copolymers

Applied and Computational Mathematics Seminar
Monday, November 2, 2009 - 13:00
30 minutes
Skiles 255
Simon Fraser University

A density functional theory of Ohta and Kawasaki gives rise to nonlocal perturbations of the well-studied Cahn-Hilliard and isoperimetric variational problems. In this talk, I will discuss these simple but rich variational problems in the context of diblock copolymers. Via a combination of rigorous analysis and numerical simulations, I will attempt to characterize minimizers without any preassigned bias for their geometry.

Energy-driven pattern formation induced by competing short and long-range interactions is ubiquitous in science, and provides a source of many challenging problems in nonlinear analysis. One example is self-assembly of diblock copolymers.  Phase separation of the distinct but bonded chains in dibock copolymers gives rise to an amazingly rich class of nanostructures which allow for the synthesis of materials with tailor made mechanical, chemical and electrical properties. Thus one of the main challenges is to describe and predict the self-assembled nanostructure given a set of material parameters.