Date: 22 Sep 2005

Direct Observation of the Growth of Lamellae and Spherulites by AFM

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This article describes some of the progress made in the understanding of the growth of polymer lamellae and spherulites using atomic force microscopy (AFM) in the last five years. High-resolution and real-time AFM phase imaging enables us to observe the detailed growth process of lamellae. During the early stage of crystallization, embryos appear and disappear on the film surface. A stable embryo develops into a single lamella, which develops into a founding lamella. Then, the founding lamella develops into a lamellar sheaf through branching and splaying. Through further branching and splaying, a lamellar sheaf develops into a spherulite with two eyes at its center.