We report on the effect of an aliphatic oxalamide based nucleating agent (OXA3,6) on the melt and crystallization behavior of isotactic polypropylene (iPP) under defined shear conditions. Through polarized optical microscopy, we demonstrate that OXA3,6 self-assembles from the iPP melt into rhombic crystals whereas their size and distribution proved highly dependent on the employed cooling rates. The presence of 0.5 wt % of OXA3,6 in iPP results in a significant suppression in iPP melt viscosity, which could not be explained via molecular modeling. A possible cause for the drop in viscosity in the presence of OXA3,6 is attributed to the interaction (absorption) of high molecular weight iPP chains with the nucleating agent, thereby suppressing their contribution to the viscoelastic response of the melt. This proposed mechanism for the suppression in melt viscosity appears similar to that encountered by the homogeneous distribution of nanoparticles such as CNTs, graphene, and silica. Shear experiments, performed using a slit flow device combined with small- angle X-ray diffraction measurements, indicate that crystallization is significantly enhanced in the presence of OXA3,6 at relatively low shear rates despite its lowered sensitivity to shear. This enhancement in crystallization is attributed to the shear alignment of the rhombic OXA3,6 crystals that provide surface for iPP kebab growth upon cooling. Overall, the suppression in melt viscosity in combination with enhanced nucleation efficiency at low as well as high shear rates makes this self-assembling oxalamide based nucleating agent a promising candidate for fast processing.
- FLOW-INDUCED CRYSTALLIZATION
- SHEAR-INDUCED CRYSTALLIZATION
- ENTANGLED POLYMERS