Quantitative water uptake study in thin nylon-6 films with NMR imaging

N.J.W. Reuvers, H.P. Huinink, H.R. Fischer, O.C.G. Adan

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Nylon-6 is widely used as an engineering plastic. Compared to other synthetic polymers, nylon-6 absorps significant amounts of water. Although the typical sorbed amounts and diffusivity of water are well-known, less is known about the relation between the diffusivity and the water content. Attempts have been made in the past to obtain such relationship from moisture content profiles as measured with NMR imaging. However, these studies were mainly performed at high temperatures and without a proper calibration of the signal. In particular, at room temperature, far below the Tg of dry nylon, plasticizing effects of water will result in a strong contribution of the polymer signal. Therefore, we have studied water uptake in 200 µm nylon-6 films in this temperature range near room temperature with NMR imaging. By calibrating the NMR signal with vapor sorption data, we were able to obtain moisture content profiles. A strongly nonlinear relation between the NMR signal and the moisture was observed at room temperature, which proves that contribution of the polymer to the NMR signal can neither be neglected nor assumed to be constant in time. Furthermore, glass transition temperature measurements combined with the water distribution provide plasticization profiles during water uptake. On the basis of the moisture content profiles, the moisture content dependency of the diffusion coefficient for water uptake is deduced through a Matano-Boltzmann analysis. This relation appeared to be highly nonlinear at room temperature. The self-diffusion coefficient was calculated through combination of the sorption-isotherm and the diffusion coefficient. Exposure of a nylon film to heavy water showed that water affects only a small fraction of the amorphous nylon phase. Water transport most likely occurs in this fraction of the amorphous phase. It is concluded that the heterogeneity of the amorphous phase is an important issue for a profound understanding of water transport in nylon-6 films.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1937-1945
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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