Acoustic emission during crystallization of polymers
Ultrasonic emission was found to accompany spherulitic crystallization of polymers from the melt. The source of acoustic waves was identified as an abrupt negative pressure release in regions of melt occluded by spherulites (weak spots) in the course of crystallization. The buildup of a negative pressure in occluded areas is a result of a density change during crystallization. When the level of stress approaches the limit related to melt cohesion, cavitation occurs, the stress is released, and acoustic wave is emitted. On the basis of a statistical approach to the description of spherulitic structure formation, it was predicted that most acoustic events should occur at a high degree of conversion-close to the end of crystallization. The ultrasonic emission was found during isothermal crystallization of isotactic polypropylene and poly(methylene oxide). In the case of Nylon 6, acoustic emission was attributed to environmental stress cracking and degradation. No acoustic events were reco rded during crystallization of high-density polyethylene and during similar thermal treatment of a series of noncrystallizable polymers. Addition of a nucleating agent to crystallizable polymers drastically reduces the acoustic emission during crystallization, which indicates that the spherulite size is one of the most important parameters. Depending on the size and geometry of weak spots, melt properties, and mechanical properties of spherulites, the stress in weak spots is either released by cavitation or remains frozen in the material. It was found that the time distribution of acoustic emission is located between the time distributions of the formation of weak spots and the formation of quadruple boundary points between spherulites.