Playing the Polymer Game
We need to build a better suite of techniques for the analysis of macromolecules
Over the last two decades, increasing attention has been paid to the analysis of complex polymers, particularly determining their chemical composition and microstructure using advanced fractionation and spectroscopic methods. Why do we need this information? So we can fully understand the behavior and properties of materials during processing and application. The precise analysis of such materials – which have multivariate distributions – is a difficult task, and a single separation/analytical method is often not able to provide comprehensive information.
The most commonly used techniques include size exclusion chromatography (SEC) and MALDI-MS. However, it is important to be aware of the limitations of these techniques, and to keep an open mind to other separation techniques that can supplement them. For polymers with more specific applications, such as polymers with functional groups (for good adhesion and so on), block copolymers (for morphology control) and polymers with well-defined molar mass distribution with architecture, neither SEC or MALDI alone can provide sufficient information.
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