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Engineering LibreTexts

13.3: Spherulites and Optical Properties

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  • Since crystallisation in polymers follows a different process to that in metals - the laying down of successive lamellar layers of polymer chain - it produces a different structure. After nucleation, growth in most polymers is faster in one preferred direction. By convention this is called the b-axis. The other two axes (the c- and a-axes) grow at the same speed, and have no set direction provided they are orthogonal to the b-axis. Thus they are free to rotate. This means that polymer crystals grow in helical strands radiating from a nucleation point. Such growth leads to the formation of structures called spherulites.