Self-Assembly of Symmetric Diblock Copolymers in Planar Slits with and without Nanopatterns: Insight from Dissipative Particle Dynamics Simulations

We present a dissipative particle dynamics simulation study on the formation of nanostructures of symmetric diblock copolymers confined between planar surfaces with and without nanopatterns. The nanopatterned surface is mimicked by alternating portions of the surface that interact differently with the diblock copolymers. The formation of the diblock−copolymer nanostructures confined between the planar surfaces is investigated and characterized by varying the separation width and the strength of the interaction between the surfaces and the diblock copolymers. For surfaces with nanopatterns, we also vary both the mutual area and location of the nanopatterns, where we consider nanopatterns on the opposing surfaces that are vertically (a) aligned, (b) staggered, and (c) partially staggered. In the case of planar slits without nanopatterns, we observe the formation of perpendicular and parallel lamellar phases with different numbers of lamellae. In addition, the symmetric diblock copolymers self-assemble into adsorbed layer and adsorbed layer−parallel lamellar phases and a mixed lamellar phase when the opposing surfaces of the planar slits are modeled by different types of wall beads. In the case of nanopatterned planar slits, we observe novel nanostructures and attempt to rationalize the diblock copolymer self-assembly on the basis of the behavior that we observed in the planar slits without nanopatterns. In particular, we investigate the applicability of predicting the structures formed in the nanopatterned slits by a superposition of the observed structures in slits without nanopatterns.