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Direct Measure of Crystalline Domain Size, Distribution, and Orientation in Polyethylene Fibers


High performance ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fibers are primarily composed of extended chain (shish) and lamellae (kebab) crystalline domains. Characterization of these architectures commonly utilizes x-ray scattering techniques, which rely upon models to transform from inverse scattering space to real space. Scattering models for lamellae and straight chain crystalline domains were developed and intended for use in ideal scattering scenarios; ie. purely extended chain or purely lamellae. Simultaneous implementation of both models with real (non-ideal) fibers takes for granted the validity of either model in the presence of the other crystalline feature. In this work, we utilize atomic force microscopy (AFM) to directly couple real space stiffness measurements to the analysis of scattering data. The validity of scattering models is tested against real space image analysis and conclusions are drawn regarding the analysis of scattering data to quantify crystalline domain sizes. We find that the lamellae long spacing estimated from scattering data is consistent with real space image analysis. Whereas significant differences are observed for the analysis of lamellae diameter. The characteristic size of extended chain crystalline domains is measured via the streak analysis method on both SAXS 2D scattering data and the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) of AFM stiffness maps. The streak analysis results in comparable length scales when applied to SAXS and FFT AFM images. A comparison of the streak analysis with novel filtered AFM images suggest that the streak analysis is capturing continuity of straight chain crystalline domains.

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Christopher K. Henry, Emil Sandoz-Rosado, Michael R. Roenbeck, Daniel J. Magagnosc, Giuseppe R. Palmese, Kenneth E. Strawhecker, Nicolas J. Alvarez



Henry, CK; Sandoz-Rosado, E.; Roenbeck, MR; Magagnosc, DJ; Palmese, GR; Strawhecker, KE; Alvarez, NJ. Direct measure of crystalline domain size, distribution, and orientation in polyethylene fibers. Polymer 2020. (202): 122589. DOI: