For crystalline solids, the displacement of diffraction peaks with applied elastic strain is the basis of one method of measuring internal stress1,2. The effect has been exploited for both metals3 and crystalline polymers4. Hitherto, the diffuse character of diffraction peaks obtained from non-crystalline materials has discouraged similar measurements on them. Working with atactic polymethyl methacrylate (a-PMMA) as an example of non-crystalline polymer glasses (which can sustain elastic strains up to several per cent before plastic yield or fracture), a displacement of the most intense diffraction peak has been observed in response to applied elastic strain. This peak corresponds to intermolecular correlations in the polymer5,6.
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Pick, M., Lovell, R. & Windle, A. Detection of elastic strain in an amorphous polymer by X-ray scattering. Nature 281, 658–659 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1038/281658a0
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