Syndiotactic polystyrene (sPS) composites filled with well-dispersed multi-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were readily prepared through a coagulation method. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and wide-angle X-ray diffraction revealed the effect of CNTs on the polymorphism of sPS. When crystallized from the melted state, the formation of the β-form was always favored after CNT addition regardless of crystallization conditions (isothermal or non-isothermal). In the case where liquid nitrogen was used to quench the melt, the uncrystallized material that was not able to crystallize in the extremely short crystallization time crystallized in the α form upon subsequent cold crystallization. Regardless of the CNT content, the glass transition and equilibrium melting temperature of the sPS matrix were unchanged at ∼96 and 290 °C, respectively. With a gradual increase in CNT loading, the sPS crystallization rate initially increased but then reached a plateau value at high CNT concentrations because of the reduction in chain mobility. Moreover, the Avrami exponent was changed from 2.8 for samples at low CNT contents to 2.0 for samples with a CNT concentration above 0.1 wt.%, at which the rheological threshold was approached and a polymer-CNT hybrid network was formed. The enhanced crystallization kinetics was attributed to the high nucleating ability of CNTs to induce a transcrystalline layer (TCL) at its surface, as revealed by transmission electron microscopy. For composites with low levels of CNT, the growth of sPS spherulites in the bulk between CNTs prevailed. Provided that the CNT-related networks were developed, the two-dimensional growth of cylindrical TCL at the CNT surface became dominant and led to the expected Avrami exponent.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry