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Low-temperature sintering of stereocomplex-type polylactide nascent powder: The role of poly(methyl methacrylate) in tailoring the interfacial crystallization between powder particles

Despite of its enormous application potential as a prominent engineering bioplastic, the processing of the stereocomplex-type polylactide (SC-PLA) formed from poly(l-lactide)/poly(d-lactide) (PLLA/PDLA) blends into useful products remains challenging. Recently, low-temperature sintering has emerged as a feasible and promising processing technology towards transparent highly-crystalline SC-PLA products. During the sintering of SC-PLA nascent powder, the interfaces between adjacent particles could be bound together through SC crystallization of interdiffused PLLA and PDLA chains across the interfaces. However, the massive generation of the interface-localized SC crystallites is significantly impaired by the insufficient chain interdiffusion resulting from the rapid SC crystallization. In this work, miscible poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) is adopted to substantially promote the chain interdiffusion by fundamentally diminishing the SC crystallization rate. Intriguingly, we find that the crystallization of PLLA/PDLA chains is greatly decelerated with the incorporation of PMMA and thus more enantiomeric PLA chains could interdiffuse through the interfaces before their crystallization. Moreover, the PMMA is also favorable for the particle wetting of the densified nascent powders, which makes it easier for the enantiomeric chains to interdiffuse across the interfaces. The promoted chain interdiffusion leads to an evident increase in the number of the newly-generated SC crystallites and resulting interfacial weld strength. Consequently, the sintered SC-PLA products possessing superior thermomechanical properties and markedly enhanced hydrolytic resistance have been fabricated by incorporating 9 wt% PMMA, without compromising transparency. These findings could bode well for the industrial fabrication and applications of SC-PLA products.

Publication date: 01/12/2020

Author: Dongyu Bai, Huili Liu, Yilong Ju, Shihao Deng, Hongwei Bai, Qin Zhang, Qiang Fu



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.