Optimization of scanning transmission X-ray microscopy for the identification and quantitation of reinforcing particles in polyurethanes
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The morphology, size distributions, spatial distributions, and quantitative chemical compositions of co-polymer polyol-reinforcing particles in a polyurethane have been investigated with scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM). A detailed discussion of microscope operating procedures is presented and ways to avoid potential artifacts are discussed. Images at selected photon energies in the C 1s, N 1s and O 1s regions allow unambiguous identification of styrene-acrylonitrile-based (SAN) copolymer and polyisocyanate polyaddition product-based (PIPA) reinforcing particles down to particle sizes at the limit of the spatial resolution (50 nm). Quantitative analysis of the chemical composition of individual reinforcing particles is achieved by fitting C 1s spectra to linear combinations of reference spectra. Regression analyses of sequences of images recorded through the chemically sensitive ranges of the C 1s, N 1s and O 1s spectra are used to generate quantitative compositional maps, which provide a fast and effective means of investigating compositional distributions over a large number of reinforcing particles. The size distribution of all particles determined by STXM is shown to be similar to that determined by TEM. The size distributions of each type of reinforcing particle, which differ considerably, were obtained by analysis of STXM images at chemically selective energies.
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