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Multiscale Morphological Visualization of a Semi-crystalline Polymer by a Polymorphic AIE Marker

submitted on 05.07.2019, 04:10 and posted on 05.07.2019, 18:18 by Michidmaa Khorloo, yanhua Cheng, Haoke Zhang, Ming Chen, Herman H.-Y. Sung, Ian Duncan Williams, Jacky W. Y. Lam, Ben Zhong Tang

Direct spatial mapping of polymer morphologies remains challenging owing to poor imaging contrast across different microstructures. Now this conundrum is addressed by a polymorphic molecule with aggregation-induced emission (AIE), capable of selectively lighting up amorphous and crystalline phases with distinct color. The polymorphic behaviors of the AIE molecule embedded within polymer network is dependent on the size of nano-confinement: a thermodynamically stable polymorph of the AIE molecule with green emission is stabilized in amorphous phase, while a metastable polymorph with yellow emission is confined in crystalline phase. The information on polymer crystalline and amorphous phases is transformed into distinct fluorescence colors, allowing a single AIE molecule as a fluorescent marker for multiscale visualization of polymer morphologies in terms of amorphous and crystalline phases distribution, quantitative polymer crystallinity measurement, and spatial morphological arrangement. The proposed strategy provides a correlation between microscopic morphologies and macroscopic optical signals, opens an avenue of fluorescence imaging in materials science.


National Science Foundation of China (51603035, 21788102, 21490570 and 21490574)

Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (16308116 and C6009-17G)

Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC-CNERC14SC01 and ITS/254/17)

Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC-CNERC1 the Science and Technology Plan of Shenzhen (JCYJ20170818113602462, JCYJ20160229205601482 and JCYJ20160509170535223)

Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (16JC1400700 and 17ZR1446300)

China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M591572 and 2017T100256)

Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2232018D3-01)

State Key Laboratory for Modification of Chemical Fibers and Polymer Materials, Donghua University


Email Address of Submitting Author


Hong Kong University of Science and Technology


Hong Kong

ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest declared.