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Spatial inhomogeneity of chain orientation associated with strain-induced density fluctuations in polyethylene


We found the spatial inhomogeneity of chain orientation on the submicron scale in polyethylene (PE) under strain by scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM). Our previous study [1] clarified that straininduced density fluctuations on the submicron scale and that density fluctuations strongly affected the mechanical behavior of PE during strain. Strain is expected to induce the spatial inhomogeneity of chain orientation as well as density fluctuations, and the spatial inhomogeneity might also affect the mechanical behavior. However, wide-angle X-ray scattering can be used to explore the spatially averaged local structure, and the spatial inhomogeneity of chain orientation on the submicron scale has not yet been investigated. To clarify the spatial inhomogeneity of chain orientation, we observed near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectra at the carbon K-edge of stretched PE, with a resolution on the order of 10 nm, by STXM and investigated the spatial inhomogeneity of chain orientation as well as density fluctuations. The intensity of the NEXAFS spectra revealed that the chains were more oriented in the low-density region under stretching. The orientation was induced by the stretching of the polymer chains mechanically melted.

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The synchrotron USAXS/SAXS/WAXD experiments were performed at BL03XU in SPring-8 (Proposal Nos. 2019 A7215, 2019B7264, 2020A7213, and 2021A7213), which was constructed by the Consortium of Advanced Softmaterial Beamline (FSBL) with the approval of the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI). The authors thank Dr. Taizo Kabe and Dr. Hiroyasu Masunaga (JASRI/SPring-8) for their assistance in the experiments on the BL03XU beamline. The STXM measurements were conducted at BL-19A of the Photon Factory (Proposal Nos. 2020G091 and 2020Y016). The authors thank Dr. Yasuo Takeichi, Dr. Shohei Yamashita, and Dr. Daisuke Wakabayashi (KEK-PF) for supporting STXM operation.

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All authors contributed to the writing of this manuscript. All authors have given approval to the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yohei Nakanishi or Mikihito Takenaka.

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Arakawa, M., Kishimoto, M., Nakanishi, Y. et al. Spatial inhomogeneity of chain orientation associated with strain-induced density fluctuations in polyethylene. Polym J 54, 243–248 (2022).

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