Origination and Transformation of the Monoclinic and Orthorhombic Phases in Reactor Powders of Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene
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Using powerful synchrotron X-ray radiation of the beamline “Belok” operated by the National Research Center “Kurchatov Institute,” we perform X-ray diffraction (XRD) study of an intact, virgin (not subjected to any external mechanical loads) particle isolated from reactor powder of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene. Along with the peaks originating from the orthorhombic phase, we detect the peaks characteristic of the monoclinic phase that is stable only under mechanical stress, suggesting that the mechanical stress that leads to the formation of the monoclinic phase and persists at room temperature develops during the polymer synthesis. The monoclinic phase gradually disappears when the particle is heated stepwise in increments of 5 K, and its peaks become undetectable when the temperature reaches 340 K. We contrast the results obtained for the phase composition of the virgin particle to those for a tablet prepared by compaction of the same reactor powder at room temperature. XRD analyses of the tablet were performed on D2 Phaser (Bruker) instrument. The monoclinic phase that originates during the polymer synthesis and the one that forms in the tablet during compaction have different parameters. We discuss the mechanisms by which these two different monoclinic phases originate during the processes involved.
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