Polymer and Materials Science
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Stress crazing is studied in three forms of crystalline, isotactic polypropylene (PP): (1) smectic/nonspherulitic, (2) monoclinic/nonspherulitic, and (3) monoclinic/spherulitic PP. Optical and scanning electron microscopy as well as stress - strain measurements are used to characterize crazing behavior in these three forms as a function of temperature (-210 to 60°C) and of the gaseous environment (vacuum, He, N2, Ar, O2, and CO2). Forms 1 and 2 are found to craze much like an amorphous, glassy polymer in the temperature range between -210 and -20°C, irrespective of environment. The plastic crazing strain is large close to the glass-transition range (ca. -20°C) of amorphous PP and in the neighborhood of the condensation temperature of the environmental gas. Near condensation, the gas acts as a crazing agent inasmuch as the stress necessary to promote crazing is lower in its presence than in vacuum. A gas is the more efficient as a crazing agent, the greater is its thermodynamic activity.Spherulitic PP (form 3) crazes in an entirely different manner from an amorphous, glassy polymer, showing that the presence of spherulites influences crazing behavior much more profoundly than the mere presence of a smectic or monoclinic crystal lattice. Below room temperature, crazes are generally restricted in length to a single spherulite, emanating from the center and going along radii perpendicular, within about 15°, to the direction of stress. They never go along spherulite boundaries. Gases near their condensation temperature act as crazing agents much as in nonspherulitic PP. Above room temperature the crazes are no longer related to the spherulite structure, being extremely long and perfectly perpendicular to the stress direction. Apparently the crystals are softened enough by thermally activated segmental motion to permit easy propagation of the craze. The morphology of the fracture surfaces and its dependence on temperature and environment is described and discussed. Concerning the action of gases as crazing agents it is argued that the gas is strongly absorbed at the craze tip, where stress concentration increases both the equilibrium gas solubility and the diffusion constant. Hence, a plasticized zone is formed having a decreased yield stress for plastic flow. This is considered to be the main mechanism by which the gas acts as a crazing agent. In addition, reduction of the surface energy of the polymer by the adsorbed gas eases the hole formation involved in crazing.
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