Post-irradiation effects in polyethylenes irradiated under various atmospheres
If a large amount of polymer free radicals remain trapped after irradiation of polymers, the post-irradiation effects may result in a significant alteration of physical properties during long-term shelf storage and use. In the case of polyethylenes (PEs) some failures are attributed to the post-irradiation oxidative degradation initiated by the reaction of residual free radicals (mainly trapped in crystal phase) with oxygen. Oxidation products such as carbonyl groups act as deep traps and introduce changes in carrier mobility and significant deterioration in the PEs electrical insulating properties. The post-irradiation behaviour of three different PEs, low density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) was studied; previously, the post-irradiation behaviour of the PEs was investigated after the irradiation in air (Suljovrujic, 2010). In this paper, in order to investigate the influence of different irradiation media on the pos...t-irradiation behaviour, the samples were irradiated in air and nitrogen gas, to an absorbed dose of 300 kGy. The annealing treatment of irradiated PEs, which can substantially reduce the concentration of free radicals, is used in this study, too. Dielectric relaxation behaviour is related to the difference in the initial structure of PEs (such as branching, crystallinity etc.), to the changes induced by irradiation in different media and to the post-irradiation changes induced by storage of the samples in air. Electron spin resonance (ESR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), infra-red (IR) spectroscopy and gel measurements were used to determine the changes in the free radical concentration, crystal fraction, oxidation and degree of network formation, respectively. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.