Spherulitic crystallization behavior of poly(∈-caprolactone) with a wide range of molecular weight

Hsin Lung Chen*, Lain Jong Li, Wen Chung Ou-Yang, Jenn Chiu Hwang, Wen Young Wong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations

Abstract

Poly(∈-caprolactone) (PCL) with a wide range of molecular weight (MW) has been prepared via fractionation by either precipitating PCL/chloroform solutions into different amounts of methanol or adding methanol into PCL/tetrahydrofuran (THF) solutions. The samples with Mn ranging from 1900 to 64 700 were used to investigate the MW effects on the spherulite growth rate, nucleation density, and equilibrium melting point (Tm0) of PCL. The variation of spherulite growth rate with MW exhibited a maximum rather than a conventional monotonic drop. The existence of such a maximum was rationalized by considering the interplay between the effects of MW on Tm0 and segmental mobility. A growth kinetic formula proposed by Hoffman was employed to extract the crystal surface free energy product (σσe). In contrast to the conventional Lauritzen - Hoffman analysis which was based on the growth rates measured at different crystallization temperatures (Tc) for a given MW, the present analysis was based on the growth rates measured for different MW at a given Tc. The spherulite nucleation density was found to be higher for the sample with larger MW, and this observation was interpreted based on the individual effects of MW on the primary nucleation rate and spherulite growth rate. An increase in MW promoted the nucleation rate much more significantly compared with its effect on the growth rate, and this in turn led to a higher nucleation density. An unusual morphology due to the segregation of uncrystallizable short chains into the interfibrillar regions of the spherulites was also observed for PCL with Mn = 1900.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1718-1722
Number of pages5
JournalMacromolecules
Volume30
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 24 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry

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