2020 Impact factor 1.890
Soft Matter and Biological Physics

Eur. Phys. J. E 1, 9-25

Adsorption of a Gaussian random copolymer chain at an interface

X. Châtellier - J.-F. Joanny

Institut Charles Sadron, 6 rue Boussingault, 67083 Strasbourg, France

Received 21 January 1999

We consider the adsorption of an isolated, Gaussian, random, and quenched copolymer chain at an interface. We first propose a simple analytical method to obtain the adsorption/depletion transition, by averaging over the disorder the partition function instead of the free energy. The adsorption thresholds obtained by previous authors at a solid/liquid and at a liquid/liquid interface for multicopolymer chains can be rederived using this method. We also compare the adsorption thresholds obtained for bimodal and for Gaussian disorder; they only agree for small disorder. We focus on the specific case of an ideally flat asymmetric liquid/liquid interface, and consider the situation where the chain is composed of monomers of two different chemical species A and B. The replica method is developed for this case. We show that the Hartree approximation, coupled to a replica symmetry assumption, leads to the same adsorption thresholds as obtained from our general method. In order to describe the properties of the adsorbed (or depleted) chain, we develop a new approximation for long chains, within the framework of the replica theory. In most cases, the behavior of a random copolymer chain can be mapped onto that of a homopolymer chain at an asymmetric attractive interface. The values of the effective adsorption energy are different for a random and a periodic copolymer chain. Finally, we consider the case of uncorrelated annealed disorder. The behavior of an annealed chain can be mapped onto that of a homopolymer chain at an asymmetric non attractive interface; hence, an annealed chain cannot adsorb at an asymmetric interface.

05.90.+m Other topics in statistical physics, thermodynamics, and nonlinear dynamical systems - 68.10.-m Fluid surfaces and fluid-fluid interfaces - 82.65.Dp Thermodynamics of surfaces and interfaces

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