It is confirmed that a layer of vacuum-evaporated carbon on the surface of a preoriented ultrathin polymer film can lead to an oriented recrystallization of the polymer film. This has been attributed to a strong fixing effect of vacuum-evaporated carbon layer on the film surface of the polymer. To study the origin of the strong fixing effect of vacuum-evaporated carbon layer on the polymer films, the melting and recrystallization behaviors of the preoriented ultrathin PE film with a vacuum-evaporated carbon layer were studied by using atomic force microscopy, electron diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy. We found that there exists some extent of chain orientation of carbon-coated polyethylene (PE) preoriented ultrathin film above its melting temperature. These oriented PE chain sequences act as nucleation sites and induce the oriented recrystallization of preoriented PE film from melt. Raman spectroscopy results suggest that new carbon-carbon bonds between the carbon layer and the oriented PE film are created during the process of vacuum carbon evaporation. As a result, some of the PE chain stems are fixed to the coated carbon substrate via covalent bond. Such a bonding has retarded the relaxation of the PE chains at the spot and, therefore, preserves the original orientation of the PE stems at high temperature, which in turn derives the recrystallization of the PE chains in an oriented structure.
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