From the melt via mesomorphic and granular crystalline layers to lamellar crystallites: A major route followed in polymer crystallization?
Eur. Phys. J. E 3, 165 (2000)
Fakultät für Physik der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
Based on broad and detailed evidence from a large variety of experiments on several polymer systems carried out by other authors and ourselves a novel concept for understanding the crystallization of polymers from the melt is developed. The experiments generally indicate that the formation and growth of the lamellar crystallites is a multi-step process passing over intermediate states. We suggest a specific route which is compatible with the observations. It is proposed that the initial step is always the creation of a mesomorphic layer which spontaneously thickens, up to a critical value, where it solidifies through a cooperative structural transition. The transition produces a granular crystalline layer, which transforms in the last step into homogeneous lamellar crystallites. The model leads to predictions about the temperature dependencies of the crystal thickness and the growth rate which are at variance with conventional views but in agreement with findings in recent experiments.