Direct observation of growth of lamellae and spherulites of a semicrystalline polymer by AFM

Lin Li, Chi Ming Chan, King Lun Yeung, Jian Xiong Li, Kai Mo Ng, Yuguo Lei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


The dynamic growth processes of lamellae and spherulites of a polymer (BA-C8) synthesized by condensation polymerization of bisphenol A and 1,8-dibromooctane were directly observed using an atomic force microscope at 25±1 °C. The phase shift measured at the tip of growing lamellae is lower than the phase shifts of the other regions of the lamellae. This result indicates that the growth front of a lamella is softer and contains more defects than the developed ones. The growth process of lamellae and the formation of spherulites were studied. A lamella was observed to breed more lamellae by inducing adjacent secondary nuclei and to develop into a lamellar sheaf and finally into a spherulite. The lamellae were preferentially oriented edge-on with respect to the surface of the BA-C8 polymer thin films. The detailed observations on the formation of the secondary nuclei indicated that the branching of the lamellae was only a temporary growth stage of the secondary lamellae. At the branch point, the secondary lamellae could propagate in both backward and forward directions with respect to the growth direction of the parent lamellae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-325
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 16 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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