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Influence of molecular weight on rheological, thermal, and mechanical properties of PEEK



This study focuses on the influence of molecular weight on the rheological, thermal, and mechanical behavior of poly(ether-ether-ketone) (PEEK), a semicrystalline high-performance polymer. The results show that the molecular weight of PEEK has significant influence on its rheological, thermal, and mechanical behavior. It was found that PEEK has the unique characteristic of two shear-thinning regions. The shear viscosity and the stress relaxation time of PEEK increase significantly as molecular weight increases. In general, the Cox-Merz rule is valid for all grades of PEEK. As molecular weight increases, the melting temperature of PEEK decreases slightly, but its isothermal and nonisothermal crystallization temperatures drop dramatically. As molecular weight increases, the crystallinity, the crystallization rate, and the magnitude of crystallization activation energy decrease. The crystallization kinetics study indicates that PEEK tends to form spherical crystalline structures, regardless of its molecular weight. As molecular weight increases, the tensile strength at yield, the tensile modulus, and the flexural modulus of PEEK decrease slightly, whereas the tensile strength at break, the tensile strain at break, the modulus of toughness, and the impact strength of PEEK increase significantly. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 2011. © 2010 Society of Plastics Engineers