We show that the phase behavior of the strongly segregated blend consisting of a crystalline-amorphous diblock copolymer (C-b-A) and an amorphous homopolymer (h-A), which depends on the degree of wetting of A blocks by h-A, can be probed by the crystallization kinetics of the C block. A lamellae-forming poly(ethylene oxide)-block-polybutadiene (PEO-b-PB) was blended with PB homopolymers (h-PB) of different molecular weights to yield the blends exhibiting 'wet brush', 'partially dry brush', and 'dry brush' phase behavior in the melt state. The crystallization rate of the PEO blocks upon subsequent cooling, as manifested by the freezing (crystallization) temperature (T f), was highly sensitive to the morphology and spatial connectivity of the microdomains governed by the degree of wetting of PB blocks. As the weight fraction of h-PB reached 0.48, for instance, Tf experienced an abrupt rise as the system entered from the wet-brush to the dry-brush regime, because the crystallization in the PEO cylindrical domains in the former required very large undercooling due to a homogeneous nucleation-controlled mechanism while the process could occur at the normal undercooling in the latter since PEO domains retained lamellar identity with extended spatial connectivity. Our results demonstrate that as long as the C block is present as the minor constituent the melt phase behavior of C-b-A/h-A blends can also be probed using a simple cooling experiment operated under differential scanning calorimetry (DSC).
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