Section 51
Chapter 50,397

Structural changes and chain radius of gyration in cold-drawn polyethylene after annealing: small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering and small-angle neutron scattering studies

Men, Y.; Rieger, J.; Lindner, P.; Enderle, H.-F.; Lilge, D.; Kristen, M.O.; Mihan, S.; Jiang, S.

Journal of Physical Chemistry. B 109(35): 16650-16657


ISSN/ISBN: 1520-6106
PMID: 16853118
DOI: 10.1021/jp052723g
Accession: 050396369

Samples made from linear polyethylene were drawn at room temperature and subsequently annealed at high temperatures below the melting point. The structural changes of the crystalline lamellae and lamellar superstructures as well as the single chain radius of gyration were studied by means of combined small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). After drawing, the polymeric chain segments in the crystalline phase are preferentially oriented along the drawing direction with a high degree of orientation whereas the lamellae in the samples are found to be slightly sheared exhibiting oblique surfaces as evidenced by X-ray scattering. SANS indicates that the chains are highly elongated along the drawing direction. Annealing the deformed samples at temperatures where the mechanical alpha-process of polyethylene is active leads to a thickening of both crystalline lamellae and amorphous layers. The chains in the crystalline phase retain their high degree of orientation after annealing while the lamellae are sheared to a larger extent. In addition, there is also lateral growth of the crystalline lamellae during high-temperature annealing. Despite the structural changes of the crystalline and amorphous regions, there is no evidence for global chain relaxation. The global anisotropic shape of the chains is preserved even after prolonged annealing at high temperatures. The results indicate that the mobility of polyethylene chains-as seen, e.g., by 13C NMR-is a local phenomenon. The results also yield new insight into mechanical properties of drawn PE, especially regarding stress relaxation and creep mechanisms.

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