Crystallization and precursors during fast short-term shear

Luigi Balzano, Sanjay Rastogi, Gerrit W.M. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


This paper deals with structural and morphological developments during flow-induced crystallization of molten isotactic polypropylene (iPP). Several authors have invoked the formation of precursors in the early stages of this process. However, it is not clear whether these precursors can be generated and can crystallize already during flow. We address this issue using X-ray scattering (SAXS and WAXD) with a high image capturing rate during and immediately after a strong shear pulse to the undercooled melt. Eventually, we provide the first in situ evidence of formation of flow-induced precursors (FIPs) of crystallization generated applying shear to a fast crystallizing melt of flexible macromolecules, like iPP. Moreover, it is shown that a rheological classification can be used to define the flow conditions promoting FIPs formation. In fact, when molecular stretch is achieved, we found that shear rate is the parameter dominating the formation of structures during shear. When the shear rate is high enough, crystals with a high degree of orientation are formed during a brief shear pulse. Whereas, for low shear rates, crystalline structures do not develop during a brief shear pulse. However, the equatorial streak of intensity in SAXS points to the formation of high density domains with fibrillar morphology. These dense and noncrystalline scatterers are metastable precursors of crystallization. After cessation of flow, they nucleate and assist the radial growth of stacks of lamellae. Eventually, this sequence of events leads to the well-known shish- kebab morphology. © 2009 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2088-2092
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 24 2009


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