The crystallization kinetics of poly(L-lactide), PLLA, is slow enough to allow a quasi-amorphous polymer to be obtained at low temperature simply by quenching from the melt. The PLLA crystallization process was followed by differential scanning calorimetry and optical microscopy after nucleation isothermal treatments at temperatures just below (53 °C) and just above (73 °C) the glass transition temperature. The crystallization exotherm shown in the heating thermograms shifts toward lower temperatures as the annealing time at 73 °C increases. The same effect is shown to a lesser extent when the sample nucleates at 53°C, showing the ability to nucleate in the glassy state, already shown in other polymers. The shape of the DSC thermograms is modeled by using Avrami's theory and allows an estimation of the number of crystallization germs formed. The results of optical microscopy are converted to thermograms by evaluating the average gray level of the image recorded in transmission mode as a function of temperature and calculating its temperature derivative. The shape of such optical thermograms is quite similar to that of the DSC traces but shows some peculiarities after long nucleation treatments. Atomic force microscopy was used to analyze the crystal morphology and is an additional proof of the effect of nucleation in the glassy state. The crystalline morphology observed in samples crystallized after nucleation in the glassy state is qualitatively different from that of samples nucleated above the glass transition temperature, and the number of crystals seems to be much greater than what could be expected from the crystallization kinetics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry