Influence of the free-energy functional form on simulated morphology of spinodally decomposing blends
The spinodal decomposition of a binary mixture has been studied within several mesoscopic models. It has been found that the form of the equilibrium free energy has a crucial effect on the morphological development in asymmetric blends. We have shown that the principal quantity that determines the topology of the interface (and type of morphology) is the equilibrium minority phase volume fraction, while the transition from bicontinuous to droplet morphology can be treated as a percolation. The concentration dependence of the square gradient coefficient attributed for the Flory-Huggins-de Gennes free energy has no significant influences on the average domain growth, but can be distinguished experimentally from its constant-coefficient alternative by measuring the maximum wave vector of the scattering intensity as a function of the minority phase volume fraction for spinodally decomposing asymmetric blends. The concentration dependence of the Onsager coefficient has the weak, systematic effect of slowing down the morphological development. The local shape of the interface is not affected considerably by the concentration dependence of the square gradient and Onsager coefficient.