Higher-order structural analysis of nylon-66 nanofibers prepared by carbon dioxide laser supersonic drawing and exhibiting near-equilibrium melting temperature



Extended chains and/or extended chain crystals (ECC) are important structures for improving the mechanical properties of polymer fibers. ECC have so far been produced using specially prepared materials or manufacturing methods. In our study on the production of nanofibers by carbon dioxide (CO2) laser supersonic drawing, we succeeded in producing nylon-66 nanofibers having a high melting point near the equilibrium melting point (Tm0). Two melting points (Tm) of 260 and 276°C were observed for the nanofibers, with the latter temperature being close to the Tm0 (280°C) of nylon-66. A nanofiber that was heat treated at 279°C for 10 min displayed a large stacked lamellar structure with an average crystal thickness of 140 nm. That value was close to the average molecular chain length of 212 nm, which was calculated from the average molecular weight of the nanofibers. It was inferred from these results that ECC corresponding to the average molecular chain length were present in the nanofibers. The CO2 laser supersonic drawing process is applicable to general purpose thermoplastic polymers and uses a simple drawing system. It is expected that this drawing method will help to improve the fundamental performance of general purpose polymers. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2014, 131, 40361.