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Data Mining of Polymer Phase Transitions upon Temperature Changes by Small and Wide-Angle X-ray Scattering Combined with Raman Spectroscopy

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The complex physical transformations of polymers upon external thermodynamic changes are related to the molecular length of the polymer and its associated multifaceted energetic balance. The understanding of subtle transitions or multistep phase transformation requires real-time phenomenological studies using a multi-technique approach that covers several length-scales and chemical states. A combination of X-ray scattering techniques with Raman spectroscopy and Differential Scanning Calorimetry was conducted to correlate the structural changes from the conformational chain to the polymer crystal and mesoscale organization. Current research applications and the experimental combination of Raman spectroscopy with simultaneous SAXS/WAXS measurements coupled to a DSC is discussed. In particular, we show that in order to obtain the maximum benefit from simultaneously obtained high-quality data sets from different techniques, one should look beyond traditional analysis techniques and instead apply multivariate analysis. Data mining strategies can be applied to develop methods to control polymer processing in an industrial context. Crystallization studies of a PVDF blend with a fluoroelastomer, known to feature complex phase transitions, were used to validate the combined approach and further analyzed by MVA.