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Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Oct 16;115(16):168301. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.168301. Epub 2015 Oct 15.

Three-Dimensional Conformation of Folded Polymers in Single Crystals.

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Department of Polymer Science, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio 44325, USA.
Department of Physics, Graduate School of Science and Engineering Yamaguchi University, Yamaguchi 753-8512, Japan.


The chain-folding mechanism and structure of semicrystalline polymers have long been controversial. Solid-state NMR was applied to determine the chain trajectory of (13)C CH3-labeled isotactic poly(1-butene) (iPB1) in form III chiral single crystals blended with nonlabeled iPB1 crystallized in dilute solutions under low supercooling. An advanced (13)C-(13)C double-quantum NMR technique probing the spatial proximity pattern of labeled (13)C nuclei revealed that the chains adopt a three-dimensional (3D) conformation in single crystals. The determined results indicate a two-step crystallization process of (i) cluster formation via self-folding in the precrystallization stage and (ii) deposition of the nanoclusters as a building block at the growth front in single crystals.

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