Multiaxial deformation of polyethylene and polyethylene/clay nanocomposites: in situ synchrotron small angle and wide angle X-ray scattering study



A unique in situ multiaxial deformation device has been designed and built specifically for simultaneous synchrotron small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and wide angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) measurements. SAXS and WAXS patterns of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and HDPE/clay nanocomposites were measured in real time during in situ multiaxial deformation at room temperature and at 55 °C. It was observed that the morphological evolution of polyethylene is affected by the existence of clay platelets as well as the deformation temperature and strain rate. Martensitic transformation of orthorhombic into monoclinic crystal phases was observed under strain in HDPE, which is delayed and hindered in the presence of clay nanoplatelets. From the SAXS measurements, it was observed that the thickness of the interlamellar amorphous region increased with increasing strain, which is due to elongation of the amorphous chains. The increase in amorphous layer thickness is slightly higher for the nanocomposites compared to the neat polymer. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys, 2011