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Semicrystalline polymers consist of two structural phases (see figure right), crystalline regions embedded in an amorphous matrix. Within the crystalline regions the polymer chains are oriented regularly, within the amorphous regions they are arranged more or less irregular. Within the amorphous region chain mobility is higher than in the crystalline regions. Therefore these regions are the weak part of the material and most important for mechanical properties and dyeability.
By the application of external forces, the chains in the amorphous regions are oriented more or less. This orientation is described by the moments of the orientation distribution P2 and P4. A value of P2 =0 means that all chains are arranged randomly. The maximum value P2=1 on the other hand means that all chains are oriented in the direction of the fibre axis.
To illustrate the correlation of P2 and either the orientation distribution and the molecular order, these are sketched for different values of P2 in the figures below.
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