Structural and morphological development in poly(ethylene-co-hexene) and poly(ethylene-co-butylene) blends due to the competition between liquid-liquid phase separation and crystallization

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Isothermal crystallization behavior of poly(ethylene-co-hexene) (PEH) and the 50/50 blend (H50) of PEH with amorphous poly(ethylene-co-butylene) (PEB) was studied by time-resolved synchrotron simultaneous small-angle X-ray scattering/wide-angle X-ray diffraction (SAXS/WAXD) techniques and optical microscopy (OM). The X-ray study revealed the changes of structural and morphological variables such as the scattering invariant, crystallinity and lamellar long period, et al. In H50, the lamellar morphology was found to be dependent on competition between liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) and crystallization. At high temperature, LLPS becomes dominating, resulted in crystallization of PEH with minimal influence of PEB. At low temperature, LLPS is suppressed, PEB component shows obvious influence on PEH crystallization, PEB is thought to be partially included into PEH lamellar stacks and PEH-PEB co-crystallization is unlikely, however, possible. Optical microscopy was used to monitor crystal nucleation and growth rates in PEH and H50, providing complementary information about the effect of temperature on LLPS and crystallization. Real-space lamellar morphologies in PEH and H50 were characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM), PEH exhibited sheaf-like spherulites while H50 exhibited hedrites. Overall, the competition between LLPS and crystallization in H50 blend influences the structural and morphological development. Controlling the interplay between LLPS and crystallization of PEH/PEB blends, it is possible to control the structure and morphology as practically needed. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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