Collapse-expansion transition of elastic shell induced by grafted polymer chains



A coarse-grained model for an elastic shell grafted with polymer chains is investigated by molecular dynamics methods. With increasing the number of grafted polymer chains (GPCs), it is found that the conformation of the shell undergoes from expansion to collapse and back to the expansion. By varying the density of the GPCs, the phase transition of the elastic shell can be successfully controlled at moderate bending energy of the shell and at moderate binding energy between the shell and GPCs. Furthermore, the self-assembly structures of the GPCs are also affected by the elastic shell in certain conditions. In the case of a few GPCs on the shell, the chains tend to be adsorbed on the shell surface unfolded at high value of bending energy. However, when the bending energy is small, the chains can be folded several times easily. This may be an important step toward a deeper understanding of how to control the microstructure in the production of biocomposites. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys, 2012