Time-resolved small-angle neutron scattering study of polyethylene crystallization from solution

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With time-resolved small-angle neutron scattering (TR-SANS), the crystallization kinetics of polyethylene from deuterated o-xylene solutions upon a temperature jump have been investigated. On the basis of a morphological model of coexisting lamellar stacks and coil chains in solution, experimental data have been quantitatively analyzed to provide structural information, such as the lamellar long period, the lamellar crystal thickness, the thickness of the amorphous layers between lamellae, the degree of crystallinity, and the crystal growth rate at various degrees of undercooling. The viability of TR-SANS for studying polymer crystallization is demonstrated through the consistency of these measurements and well-established knowledge of polyethylene crystallization from xylene solutions. One unique feature of this experimentation is that both the growth of lamellar crystals and the condensation of coil chains from solution are monitored simultaneously. The ratio of the crystal growth to the chain consumption rate decreases rapidly with a decreasing degree of undercooling. The Avrami analysis suggests that the growth mechanism approaches two-dimensional behavior at higher temperatures, and this is consistent with the observation of an increasing ratio of the sharp-surface area to the bulk crystal growth rate with temperature. The limitations, possible remedies, and potentials of TR-SANS for studying polymer crystallization are discussed. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Journal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics