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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Institute of Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

PI: Chris Macosko, Associate Fellow

Coarsening Dynamics of Co-continuous Blends

These researchers are studying the coarsening dynamics of co-continuous polymer blends via three-dimensional image analysis. Co-continuous blends, characterized by sponge-like microstructures, are thermodynamically unstable. This implies that they evolve into coarser structures when they are above their glass transition (or melting) temperature. This evolution is driven by the interfacial energy stored at the interface, which is greatly dependent on the extent and shape of the blend interface. Therefore, an entire characterization of the interface is paramount to understand the dynamics of coarsening of these structures. Stacks of two-dimensional images of the blends are obtained with laser scanning confocal microscopy. Specialized software (Hyugens, Photoshop, ImageJ, Amira and Volocity), available at the MSI, was used to improve the two-dimensional images and reconstruct and analyze the three-dimensional images. Different aspects of the coarsening dynamics, such as self-similar growth and pinch-off, were elucidated from the analysis of the time evolution of the shape (interfacial area and curvature) and topology of the blends studied.

Group Member

Carlos Rene Lopez Barron, Graduate Student