Polymer colloids arise in a variety of contexts ranging from synthetic to natural systems. The structure of polymeric colloids is crucial to their function and application. Hence, understanding the mechanism of structure formation in polymer colloids is important to enabling advances in their production and subsequent use as enabling materials in new technologies. Here, we demonstrate how the specific pathway from precipitation to vitrification dictates the resulting morphology of colloids fabricated from polymer blends. Through continuum simulations, free energy calculations, and experiments, we reveal how colloid structure changes with the trajectory taken through the phase diagram. We demonstrate that during solvent exchange, polymer-solvent phase separation of a homogeneous condensate can precede polymer-polymer phase separation for blends of polymers that possess some degree of miscibility. For less-miscible, higher-molecular-weight blends, phase separation and kinetic arrest compete to determine the final morphology. Such an understanding of the pathways from precipitation to vitrification is critical to designing functional structured polymer colloids.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Analytical Chemistry
- Chemistry (miscellaneous)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- phase separation
- polymer colloid