Polymer Engineering Faculty Research


Photopolymerization Induced Crystallization and Phase Separation in Poly(ethylene oxide)/Triacrylate Blends

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The present article describes experimental and theoretical investigations of miscibility and crystallization behavior of blends of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) and triacrylate monomer (TA) using differential scanning calorimetry and optical microscopy. The PEO/TA blends manifested a single Tg varying systematically with composition suggestive of a miscible character in their amorphous states. Moreover, there occurs melting point depression of PEO crystals with increasing TA. A phase diagram was subsequently established that exhibited a solid+liquid coexistence region bound by the liquidus and solidus lines, followed by an upper critical solution temperature (UCST) at a lower temperature. The emerging phase morphology was investigated to verify the coexistence regions. Upon photopolymerization in the isotropic melt above the melting point depression curve, both the UCST and the melting temperatures move upward and eventually surpass the reaction temperature, resulting in phase separation as well as crystallization of PEO driven by the changing supercooling, i.e., the thermodynamic driving force. Of particular interest is the interplay between photopolymerization-induced phase separation and crystallization, which eventually determines the final phase morphology of the PEO/TA blend such as crystalline lamellae, sheaf, or spherulites in isotropic liquid, phase separated domains, and viscous fingering liquids.

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The Journal of Chemical Physics



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