A study of the surface morphology of poly(p-phenylene terephthalamide) chars using scanning probe microscopy

Alberto Castro-Muñiz, Juan Ignacio Paredes, Amelia Martínez-Alonso, Juan M.D. Tascón

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this work was to investigate the changes in surface morphology associated with thermal degradation of poly(p-phenylene terephthalamide) (PPTA) into chars. To this end, PPTA samples decomposed at several temperatures up to 800 °C were studied on a local scale using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM). Domains with a diameter of 40-50 nm started appearing among PPTA nanofibrils at about 500 °C. At this temperature and above, a film coating the fibre developed. This layer was much less rigid than PPTA, and remained deposited on the fibres, even at high temperatures. At 800 °C, the STM images showed a surface distribution typical of a carbonaceous material, isotropic although somewhat heterogeneous. When an intermediate isothermal step (500 °C, 200 min) was introduced along with heat treatment of PPTA under a constant rate, the material obtained at the end of this step was conductive enough to be studied by STM. Although the coating over the fibres also remained after the isothermal step, it was less homogeneous than in the absence of isothermal treatment. On further heating, the residue exhibited a surface morphology typical of a carbonaceous material, but much more homogeneous and isotropic than in the absence of the isothermal step.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-707
Number of pages6
JournalPolymer Degradation and Stability
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Apr


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Chars
  • Poly(p-phenylene terephthalamide)
  • Scanning tunnelling microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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