Three-dimensional imaging in polymer science: Its application to block copolymer morphologies and rubber composites

Hidehiko Dohi, Hideaki Kimura, Marina Kotani, Takeshi Kaneko, Tatsuro Kitaoka, Toshio Nishi, Hiroshi Jinnai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


New methods to visualize polymer morphologies in three-dimension (3D) in polymer science are reviewed. Here we concentrate on one of such 3D imaging technique, transmission electron microtomography (TEMT), and introduce some experimental studies using this novel technique. They are block copolymer morphologies during order-order transition between the two different morphologies and block copolymer thin film morphology also during morphological change due to confinement. Direct visualization of 3D structure of silica particle/rubber composite and related morphological analyses are shown. Subsequently, as a very hot topic of the 3D imaging, we show for the first time to characterize the morphological change in a silica particle/rubber composite upon stretching. It was found that the aggregates of silica particles were broken down upon stretching and many voids were generated near and between the silica particles. Local stress upon stretching inside the composite was inferred from the image intensity of the 3D reconstructed image. The local stress was found not only near the silica particles but also near the top of the voids. The observations indicated that the local stress increases the modulus, causing voids to form along the stretching direction. The thickness of the specimen after the stretching was also estimated from the 3D volume data, which turned out to be non-uniform and thinner than what is expected from the affine deformation. These experimental findings indicate that the rubber composite does not obey the assumption of the affine deformation at the nano-scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-758
Number of pages10
JournalPolymer Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Local strain in rubber matrix
  • Order-order transition
  • Rubber composite
  • Silica
  • Stretching
  • Three-dimensional imaging
  • Transmission electron microtomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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