Structure Evolution and Phase Behavior of Polymer Blends Under the Influence of Shear
The effect of shear flow on the phase behavior, structure formation and morphology of a near-critical composition blend of poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile)/poly(methyl methacrylate) (SAN/PMMA) and an off-critical composition blend of SAN/poly(ε-caprolactone) (SAN/PCL) were investigated. Both blends exhibited lower critical solution temperature (LCST) behavior. Rheo-SALS (small angle light scattering) was used to characterize the time-dependent structure evolution during flows with shear rates from 0.01 to 0.05 s−1 and stresses from 8 to 60 kPa. Two types of transient “dark-streak” scattering patterns were observed. One featured a dark streak that diverged with increasing scattering vector, q, which corresponded to a chevron-like structure in the morphology of the blend. The other type of dark streak converged with increasing q, and may be due to a spinodal structure that was stretched in the flow direction. A capillary viscometer was used to achieve shear stresses as high as 400 kPa for the SAN/PCL blends, and microscopy analysis of microtomed extrudates revealed a dispersed phase morphology of cylindrical PCL-rich domains highly oriented in the flow direction. No shear-induced phase transitions were observed for either blend for the range of shear stress studied.