Morphological Development of Melt Crystallized Poly(propylene oxide) by In Situ AFM: Formation of Banded Spherulites

Leon G.M. Beekmans, Mark A. Hempenius, G. Julius Vancso

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The morphology of poly(propylene oxide) (PPO) crystals grown from the melt was investigated. The spherulites of the optically pure S polymers displayed a regular pattern of concentric rings as observed by polarizing optical microscopy, while the stereocopolymer developed irregularly banded, or non-banded spherulites depending on the degree of undercooling. The organization of the lamellar crystals within the spherulites was examined by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM). For all cases, the lamellar structures appeared to adopt an alternating flat or edge-on orientation. Examination of the morphology of single crystals in the melt of the stereocopolymer revealed truncated-lozenge crystals, which were elongated in shape. Results from crystallization kinetics, obtained by in situ AFM observations, showed that the elongated habit is related to differences in the growth rates of the {2 0 0} and {1 1 0} facets. Interestingly, the melt-grown RS-PPO crystals developed a curved asymmetrical three-dimensional shape. Based on these observations it can be proposed that the chiral nature of the chain is transmitted to higher structural levels of ordering in the crystal aggregates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-903
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean polymer journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Chirality
  • Poly(propylene oxide)
  • Atomic Force Microscopy
  • In situ crystallization
  • Polymer morphology
  • Banded spherulites


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