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Surface morphology and nodule formation mechanism of cellulose acetate membranes by atomic force microscopy



By the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM), formation mechanism of nodular structure in cellulose acetate membranes was systematically investigated. Elementary factors affecting the nodule formation were delineated on the basis of both kinetic and thermodynamic considerations. It was shown that (1) the exact nature of nodular structure is thermodynamic equilibrium glassy state; nodular structure will vanish in the rubbery state; (2) the thermodynamic factor affecting nodule formation is the membrane formation temperature; with the membrane formation temperature decreasing, more chain segments are able to form nodular structures; (3) nodule formation is dependent on the segment rearrangement; variation of the solvent environment is the major kinetic factor affecting the segment rearrangement and nodule formation. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 88: 1328–1335, 2003