Mechanical investigation of confined amorphous phase in semicrystalline polymers: Case of PET and PLA



The effect of confinement onto the mechanical properties of the amorphous phase of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and poly(lactic acid) (PLA) was investigated. These polymers have the advantage of being in bulk amorphous or in semicrystalline state allowing mechanical and physical investigation of the amorphous phase on bulk and confined configuration. Based on small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) experiments, the micro-structural arrangement of the amorphous and crystalline phase, the rigid amorphous fraction, and the visco-elastic mechanical properties of the different semicrystalline samples were investigated. DSC results help quantifying the rigid amorphous fraction dependence on the crystallinity. DMA measurements lead to quantify the viscoelastic properties of the free and confined amorphous phases for PET and PLA polymers. Indeed, based on the DMA tests, where the maximum of tan(δ) peak is usually related to the glass transition temperature, shifts upon crystallization, the mechanical properties of the restricted and mobile amorphous phase were determined. This result was correlated along with the amorphous phase thickness distribution determined by SAXS results. This observation was bolstered based on literature results about geometrical confinement configurations and their effect on the glass transition temperature of polymeric materials. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 55:397–405, 2015. © 2014 Society of Plastics Engineers