A computational study of phase separation in polymer solutions under a double quench
thesisposted on 23.05.2021, 10:39 authored by Ehsan Hosseini
Polymer-dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs) are a relatively new class of materials used for many applications ranging from switchable windows to projection displays. PDLSs are formed by spinodal decomposition induced by thermal quenching or polymerization. The objective of the present study is to introduce a new mechanism of phase separation in a binary polymer solution and develop a mathematical model and computer simulation to describe the phase separation during the early and intermediate stages of nucleation and growth and spinodal decomposition induced by thermal double quenching. The growth equilibrium limits of phase separation as well as phase transition are calculated by taking into consideration the Flory-Huggins theory for the free energy of mixing. A two step quench is modeled using Cahn-Hilliard theory for asymmetric binary polymer solution which is quenched from a stable state in the one-phase region to a metastable region where nucleation and growth occurs. The solution is allowed to coarsen for different time periods before a second quench was applied to a point further inside the phase diagram. The numerical results in two dimensions replicate the experimental and numerical work that has been recently done and published.