Crystal growth rates of syndiotactic polystyrene (sPS) and its blends with atactic polystyrene (aPS) at various temperatures (Tc) were measured using a polarized optical microscope (POM). In addition to the positively birefringent spherulites and axilites (P-spherulites and P-axilites) which are predominantly observed, small population of negatively birefringent spherulites (N-spherulites) is also detected in the neat sPS as well as in the sPS/aPS blends at a given Tc. Both P-spherulites and P-axilites possess a similar growth rate, whereas a smaller growth rate is found for N-spherulites at all Tc and samples investigated. Melting behavior of individual P- and N-spherulites was feasibly traced using hot-stage heating and a highly sensitive CCD through the decay of transmitted light intensity under cross-polars. Both P- and N-spherulites demonstrate exactly the same melting behavior under POM, which well corresponds to the differential scanning calorimetry measurements, suggesting no difference in lamellar thickness distribution or crystal perfection within P- and N-spherulites. Lamellar morphologies within spherulites were extensively investigated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) as well as scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Results obtained from TEM and SEM show that the lamellar stacks within P-spherulites grow radially, whereas those within N-spherulites are packed relatively tangentially. The growth of P-spherulites is associated with the gradual increase of lamellae' lateral dimensions which follows the conventional theory of growth mechanism. However, the measured growth rate of N-spherulites is relevant to the gradual deposition of new lamellar nuclei adjacent to the fold surfaces of already-existing lamellar stacks. The difference in measured growth rate between P- and N-spherulites is attributed to the different energy barrier required to develop stable nuclei. Based on the exhaustive TEM and SEM observations, plausible origin of N-spherulites is provided and discussed as well.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry