Isotactic polypropylene (iPP) composites filled with electrospun isotactic polystyrene (iPS) fibers were prepared through solution blending by sonication in a nonsolvent water bath. After optimal sonication treatments, the entangled and surface-fused iPS fibers in the nonwoven fabrics were disentangled and separated to facilitate better dispersion in the as-prepared composites. Composites with different fiber concentrations (0.01, 0.1, and 1 wt%) subjected to various thermal treatments were characterized using DSC, POM, and simultaneous WAXD/SAXS. The effects of cooling rates and crystallization temperatures on the formation of β -form crystals and lamellar morphology were extensively studied. Results showed that electrospun iPS fibers are novel β-nucleating agent towards iPP to enhance crystallization rate. A β-form content of ∼50% was achieved at a fiber concentration of 0.1 wt%, and the β-form content increased with increasing cooling rate. Under isothermal crystallization, the maximum β-form content was found at 120 °C, lying between the Tαβ and Tβα; the former is associated with α-to-β and the latter is relevant to the β-to-α crystal transformation due to the difference in the growth rates of both α and β phases. This finding is consistent with POM observations, revealing that a transcrystalline layer of dense α-form nuclei is first induced at the iPS fiber surface for initial crystal growth, followed by α-to-β bifurcation growth to develop highly birefringent β-form crystals. The average lamellar thickness derived from SAXS results is dependent on the supercooling degree, as well as on the relative content of α/β crystals developed in the composites.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry