Hydrogen bonding, mobility, and structural transitions in aliphatic polyamides

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Some salient results in nylon research are reviewed to identify the fundamental principles that are applicable to other strongly interacting or hydrogen-bonded polymers, including proteins. The effects of hydrogen bonds on stress-, heat-, and solvent-induced changes in macroscopic properties are discussed. These data provide a window into the chain mobility and linkages between the crystalline and amorphous domains, both of which are important for any predictive model. The changes in the characteristics of the amorphous phase with the crystallinity and orientation require that it be modeled with at least two components: a rigid/immobile/anisotropic component and a soft/mobile/isotropic component. The deformation and shrinkage behavior of these polymers are discussed in terms of the relative contributions of the amorphous and crystalline domains and of the interactions between them. The premelting crystalline transition is accompanied by the merging of intersheet and intrasheet diffraction peaks in some nylons, as observed by Brill, and not in others even though the underlying mechanism that gives rise to these transitions, the onset of volume-increasing librational motion of the crystalline stems, is the same. Because the effects of the temperature, deformation, and solvent have a common origin associated with mobility, a fictive temperature can be associated with a given solvent activity or stress level. The magnitude of this fictive temperature is the amount by which the glass or Brill transition temperature is reduced in the presence of solvents (∼50°C) or stress or by which the annealing temperature can be reduced in the presence of a solvent (or active stress) to achieve the same structural state as that of a dry (or static) polymer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1763-1782
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


  • Brill transition
  • Deformation
  • Hydrogen bonding
  • Mobility
  • Nylons
  • Polyamides
  • Relaxation
  • Rigid and mobile amorphous phase
  • Solvent effects
  • Structure-property relations


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