We have recently demonstrated a methodology to estimate the percent crystallinity (PC) of polymers directly with Raman spectroscopy and multivariate curve resolution (MCR) by alternating least-squares (ALS). In the MCR-ALS methodology, the Raman spectrum of a semicrystalline polymer is separated into two constituent components (crystalline and molten/amorphous) and their corresponding concentrations. The methodology necessitates that the Raman spectrum at any temperature be a linear combination of two MCR spectral components (one molten and one crystalline). This is true in the case of simple systems such as crystalline pendant alkyl domains in polymers (Samuel et al. Anal. Chem. 2016, 88, 4644). However, in the case of main chain polymer crystals (e.g., polyethylene), the situation can be complicated owing to several molecular changes in the lattice in addition to conformational reorganizations during melting. Under this circumstance, a simple two-state model may not be adequate and we describe the modifications required to treat such systems, keeping the basic principles of the proposed methodology unchanged. A comparative study with wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) and Raman spectroscopy is also performed to substantiate our findings. In addition to estimating percent crystallinity (PC), our methodology is capable of revealing additional information, such as interchain interactions in crystal lattice, that in principle will help distinguishing polymorphic transformations, subtle changes in lamellar lattice dimensions, and other phase changes in polymers.
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