Thermal field-flow fractionation (Thermal FFF) and asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) as new tools for the analysis of block copolymers and their respective homopolymers

Ngaza, Nyashadzashe (2014-12)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Polystyrene-block-poly(ethylene oxide) (PS-b-PEO) copolymers contain a hydrophilic PEO block and a hydrophobic PS block. PS and PEO have different affinities for most organic solvents and as a result, the PS-b-PEO copolymers are difficult to characterize in solution. In order to achieve a complete characterization of their molecular heterogeneity different techniques have been used. Recently FFF has become a cutting edge technology for polymer analysis because it possesses a number of advantages over conventional SEC and other liquid chromatographic techniques. The mild operating conditions allow the analysis of delicate and sensitive complex analytes such as complex polymer assemblies. The ability to analyze polymers with ultrahigh molar masses has also contributed to its significance in the characterization of polymers. In this study, the FFF behaviour of PS-b-PEO copolymers as well as PS and PEO homopolymers was investigated using Thermal FFF in different organic solvents and AF4. The aim of the study was the correlation of the thermodynamic quality of the solvents and the elution behaviour of the polymers. Unfortunately, PEO homopolymers have been found to interact with the membrane in AF4. Therefore, they were best characterized in organic solvents using Thermal FFF. In contrast to AF4 no specific interactions occurred due to the absence of a membrane. Results for Thermal FFF showed that in all utilized solvents, PS and PEO homopolymers were separated in the direction of increasing molar mass. For PS-b-PEO copolymers the retention in selective (good) solvents for PS was dependent on the molar mass of the PS block in the block copolymer. This was explained by the fact that in poor solvents PEO adopts a collapsed coil conformation while PS is present in extended random coil conformation. Results also showed that polymer retention was dependent on the temperature programme utilized. The fractionations by Thermal FFF indicated that some of the PS-b-PEO copolymer samples contained PS and PEO homopolymers as by-products. After semi-preparative fractionation these homopolymers were qualitatively identified using FTIR spectroscopy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Polistireen-blok-poli(etileenoksied) (PS-b-PEO) ko-polimere bevat 'n hidrofiliese politetileen oksied (PEO) blok en 'n hidrofobiese polistireen (PS) blok. PS en PEO het verskillende affiniteite vir die meeste organiese oplosmiddels, dit bemoeilik die karakterisering van PS-b-PEO ko-polimere in oplossing. Ten einde 'n volledige karakterisering van hul molekulêre heterogeniteit te bepaal moet ‘n verskeidenheid van tegnieke gebruik word. Onlangs het veldvloeifraksionering (FFF) baie grond gewen tov polimeer analise, aangesien dit verskeie voordele het bo tradisionele chromatografiese tegnieke soos grootte-uitsluitingschromatografie (SEC). Die ligte operasionele omstandighede laat die ontleding van ‘n verskeidenheid van polimere toe, enige iets van delikate polimeer komplekse tot ultra hoë molekulêre massa. In hierdie studie is die FFF gedrag van PS-b-PEO ko-polimere asook PS en PEO homopolimere ondersoek met behulp van Termiese FFF(ThFFF) in verskillende organiese oplosmiddels en onsimmetriese vloei-veldvloeifraksionering(AF4). Die doel van die studie was om die verband tussen die termodinamiese gehalte van die oplosmiddels en die eluering gedrag van die polimere te bepaal. Analise van PEO homopolimere was onsuksesvol aangesien daar interaksie was met die membraan. PEO is dus net geanaliseer in organise oplosmiddels met behulp van ThFFF, aangesien daar geen membraan is nie. Analise met ThFFF het gewys dat skeiding plaasvind volgens ‘n toename in molekulêre massa in organise oplosmiddels. Vir PS-b-PEO ko-polimere die retensie in selektiewe (goeie) oplosmiddels vir PS was afhanklik van die molekulêre massa van die PS blok in die ko-polimeer. ‘n Moontlike teorie is dat die PEO blok ‘n ineengestorte spoel struktuur vorm terwyl die PS blok ‘n uitgestrekte lukraake vorm aan neem. Resultate het ook getoon dat die polimeer retensie afhanklik was van die temperatuur program wat gebruik is. Die fraksionering deur ThFFF het aangedui dat sommige van die PS-b-PEO kopolimeer monsters bestaan het uit PS en PEO homopolimere as by-produkte. Hierdie is kwalitatief bewys deur analise van die fraksies na fraksionering van die ko-polimere met behulp van FTIR spektroskopie.

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