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Soft Matter and Biological Physics

Eur. Phys. J. E 6, 237-243 (2001)

Kinetics of reversible surface crystallization and melting in poly(ethylene oxide): Effect of crystal thickness observed in the dynamic heat capacity

T. Albrecht, S. Armbruster, S. Keller and G. Strobl

Fakultät für Physik, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, 79104 Freiburg, Germany


(Received 20 April 2001 and Received in final form 13 August 2001)

Poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) in the semi-crystalline state shows a reversible surface crystallization and melting; a temperature decrease leads to a certain crystal thickening, a temperature increase reversely to an expansion of the amorphous intercrystallite layers. Dynamic calorimetry provides a means to investigate the kinetics of the process. The structural rearrangement in the region of the crystalline-amorphous interface can only be accomplished if the chains can slide through the crystallites. One therefore expects the associated time to change with the crystallite thickness. Variations of the crystal thickness of PEO can be achieved by choosing different crystallization temperatures. We studied the effect of the crystal thickness employing temperature-modulated differential scanning calorimetry and heat wave spectroscopy, and by carrying out small-angle X-ray scattering experiments for the structural characterization. The effect of the crystal thickness is clearly observed. Results indicate that the sliding diffusion through the crystallites takes place by helical jumps of whole stems. Data yield the activation energy per unit length of the stems.

61.41.+e - Polymers, elastomers, and plastics.

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag 2001