Inducing nano-confined crystallization in PLLA and PET by elastic melt stretching†
Based on the widely studied poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that are brittle in their fully crystalline form, this Letter shows that they can be made to be super ductile, heat resistant and optically clear by creating nano-sized crystals while preserving the entanglement network. Atomic force microscopic images confirm the perceived nano-confined crystallization. Time-resolved X-ray scattering/diffraction measurements reveal the emergence of cold crystallization during either stress relaxation from large stepwise melt-stretching or annealing of pre-melt-stretched PLLA and PET above Tg. Mechanical tests show that these polymers in such a new state are rigid even well above Tg, e.g., at 100 °C.