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Concepts of nucleation in polymer crystallization

Jun Xu, Günter Reiter, Rufina G. Alamo. Crystals 11 (2021) 304

Nucleation plays a vital role in polymer crystallization, in which chain connectivity and thus the multiple length and time scales make crystal nucleation of polymer chains an interesting but complex subject. Though the topic has been intensively studied in the past decades, there are still many open questions to answer. The final properties of semicrystalline polymer materials are affected by all of the following: the starting melt, paths of nucleation, organization of lamellar crystals and evolution of the final crystalline structures. In this viewpoint, we attempt to discuss some of the remaining open questions and corresponding concepts: non-equilibrated polymers, self-induced nucleation, microscopic kinetics of different processes, metastability of polymer lamellar crystals, hierarchical order and cooperativity involved in nucleation, etc. Addressing these open questions through a combination of novel concepts, new theories and advanced approaches provides a deeper understanding of the multifaceted process of crystal nucleation of polymers.

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