Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Where did the polymer's chemistry disappear to? Here it is!

So yesterday I posed the question of when exactly does the "chemistry" disappear in a polymerization, referring to the idea that 99% of the polymers are used on their basis as a physical material rather than as a reagent for further chemistry.

So now let me invert that idea completely: there is still chemistry occurring in high polymers, if you want to refer to a lack of chemistry as chemistry. With polymers, their inertness and lack of reactivity is a large part of their appeal. In many cases, that inertness comes naturally, while in other cases, it must be implanted in the polymer through the use of additives such as antioxidants, UV absorbers, hindered-amine light stabilizers, etc. In still other cases, the choice of the monomers can help create a lack of reactivity in the final product, such as choosing monomers that create hydrolysis-resistant polyamides and polyurethanes. But in all cases, the end result is (hopefully) the same - a lack of further reactions.

All of this then means that polymer chemists can spend as much time get a reaction to NOT occur as they can getting one to occur. Producing a non-reaction will seldom result in the screaming and shouting that often accompanies a successful reaction (waiting 6 months for accelerated-aging results will slowly kill the excitement of even the most enthusiastic chemist) but it is just as important. And even though it may be viewed as "anti-chemistry", it is still chemistry.

Previous Years
June 17, 2013 - Dow Chemical Hit With Triple Damages for Price Fixing Case

June 17, 2011 - BPA Absorption from Receipts? I Don't Think So

June 17, 2009 - At least here the Editor loses his job

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