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Keywords:

  • crystallization;
  • heterogeneous;
  • homogeneous;
  • memory;
  • nucleation;
  • polyethylene (PE);
  • seeding;
  • self-nucleation

Abstract

We study crystal nucleation within an ensemble of polyethylene droplets created through the dewetting of a thin film on an unfavorable substrate. In particular, we employ standard thermal treatment procedures to induce self-nucleation in samples to gain some insight into the nature of this enhanced crystallization. The novel sample-geometry enables the monitoring of each droplet throughout successive experiments, and hence the changes in their nucleation mechanism for various thermal treatments. We find a consistent self-nucleated crystallization temperature of ∼101 °C under all conditions, suggesting uniformity in the centers which facilitate nucleation. Using correlation plots, we demonstrate that the observed melt-memory effects have a stochastic rather than deterministic nature; self-nucleation is a random process. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 43: 3438–3443, 2005