Biaxial Stretch-Induced Crystallization of Polymers: A Molecular Dynamics Simulation Study

C Nie and F Peng and TY Xu and YW Ding and JF Sheng and W Chen and LB Li, MACROMOLECULES, 54, 9794-9803 (2021).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.1c01606

Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are employed to study biaxial stretch-induced crystallization of polymers, during which the individual roles of chain conformation and orientation on crystal nucleation and growth are clarified. Systems with different stiffness and orientations are constructed by changing the stretch ratios of the x- and y-axis, which allow us to figure out the individual contributions of chain conformation and orientation to flow-enhanced nucleation. The results show that nucleation occurs in areas with high segment orientation, and the higher orientation corresponds to the shorter nucleation induction period. The relationship between the nucleation induction period and orientation is quantitatively expressed, which indicates that orientation plays a dominant role in flow-enhanced nucleation. On the other hand, the results show that chain stiffness exhibits a negative correlation with nucleation in biaxial stretch, supporting that conformational entropy reduction is not the main driving force in flow- induced crystallization of polymers. With the secondary nucleation model, the crystal growth rates in different directions correlate well with the orientation at the growth front of the clusters, further confirming the decisive role of orientation in crystal nucleation and growth. Finally, crystal cluster merging is proposed to be a way to form shish structures in highly oriented melts.

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