Phase transitions, Thermodynamic functions, Porous media, Mathematical modeling, Mass transfer, Diffusion, Degree of polymerization, Polymers, Field theory models


Nonsolvent-induced phase separation (NIPS) is a popular method for creating polymeric particles with internal microstructure, but many fundamental questions remain surrounding the kinetics of the complex coupled mass transfer and phase separation processes. In this work, we use simulations of a phase-field model to examine how (i) finite domain boundaries of a polymer droplet and (ii) solvent/nonsolvent miscibility affect the NIPS process. To isolate the effects of phase separation kinetics and solvent/nonsolvent mass transfer on the NIPS process, we study two different cases. First, we investigate droplet concentrations that originate inside the two-phase region, where phase separation kinetics alone governs the microstructure. Second, we investigate the effects of solvent/nonsolvent mass transfer by studying droplet concentrations that begin outside the two-phase region, where both phase separation kinetics and mass transfer play a role. In both cases, we find that qualitative NIPS behavior is a strong function of the relative location of the initial droplet composition with respect to the phase diagram. We also find that polymer/nonsolvent miscibility competes with solvent/nonsolvent miscibility in driving NIPS kinetic behavior. Finally, we examine polymer droplets undergoing solvent/nonsolvent exchange and find that the model predicts droplets that shrink with nearly Fickian diffusion kinetics. We conclude with a brief perspective on the state of simulations of NIPS processes and some recommendations for future work.

Original Publication Citation

J. Chem. Phys. 158, 214903 (2023);

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



AIP Publishing




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering


Chemical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor