A multi-scale phase-field approach, which couples the mesoscopic crystallization with the microscopic orientation of chain segments and macroscopic viscoelastic melt flow, is proposed to study how the crystal growth of semi-crystalline polymers is affected by flows. To make the simulation feasible, we divide the problem into three parts. In the first part, a finitely extensible nonlinear elastic (FENE) dumbbell model is used to simulate the flow induced molecular structure. In the second part, formulas for estimating the density, orientation and aspect ratio of nuclei upon the oriented molecular structure are derived. Finally, in the third part, a massive mathematical model that couples the phase-field, temperature field, flow field and orientation field is established to model the crystal growth with melt flow. Two-dimensional simulations are carried out for predicting the flow effect on the crystal growth of isotactic polystyrene under a plane Poiseuille flow. In solving the model, a semi-analytical method is adopted to avoid the numerical difficult of a “high Weissenberg number problem” in the first part, and an efficient fractional step method is used to reduce the computing complexity in the third part. The simulation results demonstrate that flow strongly affects the morphology of single crystal but does not bring a significant influence on the holistic morphology of bulk crystallization.
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