Polymer, Vol.42, No.13, 5901-5907, 2001
Experimental measurement of polyethylene chain modulus by scanning force microscopy
Nanoindentation technique and scanning force microscopy have been used to measure directly the polyethylene modulus along the chain axis. Single crystals of polyethylene were employed in order to obtain well-aligned chain segments. To minimize effects of scanner creep, a Z scan rate of 3 Hz was employed. The "X Rotate" value of 25 degrees was selected to eliminate effects of lateral tip motion. The results were analyzed by the Oliver -Pharr method for which direct observation and measurement of the contact area are not required. Considering the influence of tip roundness on the projected contact area, the nanoindentation results were analyzed by the Sawa method. The chain modulus obtained from the thinner polyethylene single crystal sample was 204 +/- 21 GPa by the Oliver-Pharr method and 168 +/- 17 GPa by the Sawa method. The lower values than expected were due to substrate effects and anisotropy of chain deformation during nanoindentation. An extrapolation of the chain modulus obtained by various strains to zero nanoindentation eliminated the effect of substrate and anisotropy of chain deformation. The corresponding chain modulus obtained from the thicker sample was 278 GPa by the Oliver-Pharr method and 267 GPa by the Sawa method, respectively, in better agreement with the value of 340 Cpa determined theoretically.