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Solid-state (13)C NMR and synchrotron SAXS/WAXS studies of uniaxially-oriented polyethylene

Solid-state (13)C NMR and synchrotron SAXS/WAXS studies of uniaxially-oriented polyethylene

Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance 72: 27-40

We report solid-state (13)C NMR and synchrotron wide-and small-angle X-ray scattering experiments (WAXS, SAXS) on metallocene linear low density polyethylene films (e.g., Exceed™ 1018 mLLDPE; nominally 1MI, 0.918 density ethylene-hexene metallocene copolymer) as a function of uniaxial draw ratio, λ. Combined, these experiments provide an unambiguous, quantitative molecular view of the orientation of both the crystalline and amorphous phases in the samples as a function of draw. Together with previously reported differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), gas transport measurements, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), optical birefringence, small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) as well as other characterization techniques, this study of the state of orientation in both phases provides insight concerning the development of unusually high barrier properties of the most oriented samples (λ=10). In this work, static (non-spinning) solid-state NMR measurements indicate that in the drawn Exceed(TM) films both the crystalline and amorphous regions are highly oriented. In particular, chemical shift data show the amorphous phase is comprised increasingly of so-called "taut tie chains" (or tie chains under any state of tautness) in the mLLDPE with increasing draw ratio - the resonance lines associated with the amorphous phase shift to where the crystalline peaks are observed. In the sample with highest total draw (λ=10), virtually all of the chains in the non-crystalline region have responded and aligned in the machine (draw) direction. Both monoclinic and orthorhombic crystalline peaks are observed in high-resolution, solid-state magic-angle spinning (MAS) NMR measurements of the oriented PE films. The orientation is comparable to that obtained for ultra-high molecular weight HDPE fibers described as "ultra-oriented" in the literature. Furthermore, the presence of a monoclinic peak in cold-drawn samples suggests that there is an appreciable internal stress associated with the LLDPE. The results are confirmed and independently quantified by Herman's Orientation Function values derived from the WAXS measurements. The degree of orientation approaches theoretically perfect alignment of chains along the draw direction. We deduce from this observation that a high fraction of the non-crystalline chains are either tie chains that directly connect adjacent lamellae or are interlocking loops from adjacent lamellae. In either case, the chains are load-bearing and are consistent with the idea of "taut tie chains". We note that transmission electron micrographs recorded for the ultra-oriented Exceed showed the lamellae are often appreciably thinner and shorter than they are for cast or blown Exceed 1018. Combined with higher crystallinity, the thinner lamellae statistically favor more tie chains. Finally, the remarkably large decrease in permeability of the λ=10 film is primarily attributed to the high degree of orientation (and loss of entropy) of the amorphous phase.

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Accession: 058876187

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26476811

DOI: 10.1016/j.ssnmr.2015.10.003

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