Issues in blends of polymers of the same chemical repeat unit but with different tacticities were addressed by investigating on the phase behavior and interaction strength of binary blends of three polypropylenes of different tacticities, i.e., isotactic polypropylene (iPP), syndiotactic polypropylene (sPP), and atactic polypropylene (aPP) using polarized optical microscopy (POM) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Although blends of polypropylenes have been widely studied in the past, there are still on-going debates on true phase behavior (miscibility vs. upper critical solution temperature (UCST) or immiscibility). Except for several earlier theoretical predictions based on the Flory-Huggins mean field theories, UCST behavior had not been experimentally proven for blends of sPP/iPP or aPP/sPP, owing to interference from PP crystallinity. In addition, interaction strength of the blends of different tactic polypropylenes is yet to be established. Using the method of equilibrium melting points, the Flory-Huggins interaction parameter of the aPP/iPP blend was shown to possess a significantly negative value (χ12 = -0.21), which proves that the blend is indeed miscible in the melted amorphous as well as semicrystalline states as previously reported in the literature. However, the interaction parameters for the sPP/iPP and aPP/sPP blends were found to be nearly zero (χ12 = -0.02 and -0.0071, respectively, at T = 150-180 °C), indicating that the interactions in two blends are weak and that the corresponding phase behavior for them borders on immiscibility at ambient temperature. This study also utilized novel approaches in constructing UCST phase diagrams by separating the amorphous phase domains from the crystalline spherulites, yielding data plausible for experimentally determining the UCST in iPP/sPP blend vs. aPP/sPP blend.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry