Different mechanisms of translational symmetry breaking in liquid-crystal coil-rod-coil triblock copolymers

Mikhail A Osipov, Maxim V. Gorkunov, Alexander A. Antonov

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A molecular-statistical theory of coil-rod–coil triblock copolymers with orientationally ordered rod-like fragments has been developed using the density functional approach. An explicit expression for the free energy has been obtained in terms of the direct correlation functions of the reference disordered phase, the Flory–Huggins parameter and the potential of anisotropic interaction between rigid rods. The theory has been used to derive several phase diagrams and to calculate numerically orientational and translational order parameter profiles for different polymer architecture as a function of the Flory–Huggins parameter, which specifies the short-range repulsion and as functions of temperature. In triblock copolymers, the nematic–lamellar transition is accompanied by the translational symmetry breaking, which can be caused by two different microscopic mechanisms. The first mechanism resembles a low dimensional crystallization and is typical for conventional smectic liquid crystals. The second mechanism is related to the repulsion between rod and coil segments and is typical for block copolymers. Both mechanisms are analyzed in detail as well as the effects of temperature, coil fraction and the triblock asymmetry on the transition into the lamellar phase.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1834
Number of pages13
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • block copolymers
  • liquid crystals
  • phase transitions
  • symmetry breaking


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