Phase behavior and mechanism of formation of protofiber morphology of solution spun poly(acrylonitrile) copolymers in DMF-water system



Phase diagrams of a series of copolymers of acrylonitrile (AN) and acrylic acid (AAc) were constructed using linearized cloud point correlation. The miscibility region in the phase diagram was found to increase with the increase in AAc content of the copolymers. For various compositions, χ13 (polymer–water interaction parameter) values were estimated by sorption experiment. As the hydrophilic nature of the polymer increased with the increase in the content of acrylic acid, the χ13 interaction parameter was found to decrease from poly(acrylonitrile) homopolymer to its copolymer with 50 mol % acrylic acid (AA50B). The polymer–solvent interaction parameters (χ23) and composition at the critical points for all the polymers were determined by fitting the theoretical bimodal curves to the experimental cloud point curves using Kenji Kamide equations. The polymer composition at the critical point was found to increase by 400% with increasing AAc content. The polymers were solution spun in DMF-water coagulation bath at 30°C and their protofiber structures were investigated under scanning electron microscopy. The observed morphological differences in protofibers were explained on the changes brought about in the phase separation behavior of the polymer–solvent–nonsolvent systems. The copolymers with higher acrylic acid content could be solution spun into void free homogeneous fibers even at conditions that produced void-filled inhomogeneous fibers in poly(acrylonitrile) and its copolymers with lower AAc content. The experiments demonstrate the important role of thermodynamics in deciding the protofiber morphology during coagulation process. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011