Analysing Polymer Additives

Related to: Polymers

The properties and uses of many polymers can be modified by varying their formulation and by the use of additives. Additives often contain different chemical elements from the original polymer materials and need to be distributed evenly throughout the polymer to work effectively.


Examples of additives for plastics and where SEM-EDS has a potential role:

Additive Examples Function
Plasticiser  Esters of benzene-1,2-dicarboxylic acid  Acts as a lubricant for polymer chains.Large amounts give a flexible product, low quantities produce a rigid one. 
Stabiliser  Lead carbonate (<1%), lead phosphate or, for non-toxic requirements, mixtures of metal octadecanoates and epoxidized oil Prevents decomposition of polymer. Without a stabiliser, poly(chloroethene), for example, decomposes on heating to give a brittle product and hydrogen chloride. Some plastics become coloured (yellowing) when exposed to long periods of sunlight. 
Extender Chlorinated hydrocarbons Extends the effect of the plasticiser, but generally cannot plasticise alone. They are cheaper than plasticisers, so help reduce costs. 
Fillers  Chalk, glass fibre  Tailor the plastic for special requirements, or make it cheaper. 
Miscellaneous Flame retardants, UV stabilisers, antistatics, processing aids, pigments  Impart specially required properties to the plastic for the manufacturing process or for end-use. 
AFM for Polymer Science AFM for Nanomechanical Measurements Measuring Oil in Crystal Polystyrene Measuring Plasticiser Content in PVC Measuring Polybutadiene in Impact Polystyrene Determining the distribution of additives in polymers Determining the Distribution of Additives in Polymers


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