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Macromolecules, 2017, 50 (8), 3051–3065
P. Knychała, K. Timachova, M. Banaszak, N. P. Balsara

50th Anniversary Perspective: Phase Behavior of Polymer Solutions and Blends

We summarize our knowledge of the phase behavior of polymer solutions and blends using a unified approach. We begin with a derivation of the Flory–Huggins expression for the Gibbs free energy of mixing two chemically dissimilar polymers. The Gibbs free energy of mixing of polymer solutions is obtained as a special case. These expressions are used to interpret observed phase behavior of polymer solutions and blends. Temperature- and pressure-dependent phase diagrams are used to determine the Flory–Huggins interaction parameter, χ. We also discuss an alternative approach for measuring χ due to de Gennes, who showed that neutron scattering from concentration fluctuations in one-phase systems was a sensitive function of χ. In most cases, the agreement between experimental data and the standard Flory–Huggins–de Gennes approach is qualitative. We conclude by summarizing advanced theories that have been proposed to address the limitations of the standard approach. In spite of considerable effort, there is no consensus on the reasons for departure between the standard theories and experiments.
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