Date of this Version
Published in Macromolecules 50 (2017), pp 6396−6403
The effect of comonomer on structure and relaxation of flow-induced precursors was investigated in a series of isotactic polypropylene and random propylene−ethylene copolymers. The polymers were subjected to flow by fiber pulling and allowed to relax above their nominal melting temperature for specific times. The type of morphology developed after cooling revealed whether flow-induced precursors were still present or the melt had fully reequilibrated. Precursors were long-lived and, at fixed temperature, decayed significantly faster with higher ethylene content. The critical time for precursor relaxation followed an Arrhenius-type dependence with temperature. The apparent energy of activation for precursor dissolution decreased with increasing comonomer content, indicating that the rate-limiting step of the relaxation process becomes less difficult with higher ethylene fraction. This effect is attributed to ethylene co-units acting as disruptors of precursor structure and is discussed in terms of quasi-crystalline nature and characteristic chain stem length of precursor bundles.
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