## Abstract

Two closely related field-theoretic approaches have been used in previous work to construct coarse-grained theories of corrections to the random phase approximation for correlations in block copolymer melts and miscible polymer blends. The auxiliary field (AF) approach is based on a rigorous expression for the partition function Z of a coarse-grained model as a functional integral of an auxiliary chemical potential field. The effective Hamiltonian (EH) approach is instead based on an expression for Z as a functional integral of an observable order parameter field. The exact effective Hamiltonian H _{eff} in the EH approach is defined as the free energy of a system with a constrained order parameter field. In practice, however, H_{eff} has often been approximated by a mean-field free energy functional, yielding what we call a mean-field effective Hamiltonian (MFEH) approximation. This approximation was the starting point of both the Fredrickson-Helfand analysis of fluctuation effects in diblock copolymers and earlier work on the Ginzburg criterion in polymer blends. A more rigorous EH approach by Holyst and Vilgis used an auxiliary field representation of the exact H_{eff} and allowed for Gaussian fluctuations of this field. All applications of both AF and EH approaches have thus far relied upon some form of Gaussian, or one-loop approximation for fluctuations of a chemical potential and/or order parameter field about a mean-field saddle-point. The one-loop EH approximation of Holyst and Vilgis and the one-loop AF theory are equivalent to one another, but not to the one-loop MFEH theory. The one-loop AF and MFEH theories are shown to yield predictions for the inverse structure factor S^{-1}(q) that (in the absence of further approximations to either theory) differ by a function that is independent of the Flory-Huggins interaction parameter Ξ. As a result, these theories yield predictions for the peak scattering intensity that exhibit a similar Ξ-dependence near a spinodal. The Fredrickson-Helfand theory for the structure factor in disordered diblock copolymer melts is an asymptotic approximation to the MFEH one-loop theory that captures the dominant asymptotic behavior of very long, symmetric copolymers very near the order-disorder transition.

Original language | English (US) |
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Article number | 084902 |

Journal | Journal of Chemical Physics |

Volume | 134 |

Issue number | 8 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - Feb 28 2011 |