Applications In The Polymer Industry

Natural and synthetic polymers such as plastics, elastomers and some of the adhesives are manufactured and researched by the polymer industry. Polymer research is a subfield of material science that encompasses the fields of chemistry, physics and engineering. Polymer chemistry branch does large scale polymer synthesis and chemical analysis as well as small scale research and development of novel polymer materials. At SLINTEC Analytical Services, we perform polymer morphology, microstructure, composite structure and fracture structure analysis as well as the determination of thermal transition values of polymers.

Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)

• To investigate polymer morphology and microstructure, composite structure, failure analysis and degradation
• To obtain high resolution images to explore structures in polymers with detailed and precise measurements
• Assessment of the thickness of polymer layers or coatings
• Assessment of uniformity of polymer materials and the distribution of filler components
• TEM with EDX can allow the identification of the spatial elemental distribution 

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

• To investigate polymer morphology and microstructure, composite structure, failure analysis and degradation
• Morphology study for nanomaterials in polymer composites
• To obtain high resolution images to explore crystalline or other ordered structures in polymers with detailed and precise measurements
• SEM in combination with EDX can allow the identification of the spatial elemental distribution

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

• Examination of surface topography and roughness of polymers
• Examination of surface topography and phase distribution in polymer composites
• Nanoindentation lithography
• High resolution imaging of polymer structures in order to visualize single polymer chains, polymer blends, amorphous and crystalline components of polymers to study the morphology and nanostructure and to characterize the polymers
• Studying of microphase separation in block copolymers

Optical Microscopy

• Failure analysis of polymers
• Study of polymer morphology

Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA)

• Compositional analysis of multi component materials or blends of polymers based on decomposition temperatures
• Study of thermal and oxidative stabilities of polymers
• Evaluation of decomposition kinetics
• To assess the moisture, volatiles and filler content in polymers

Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)

• Determination of Glass Transition Temperature (Tg), Crystallization Temperature (Tc) and Melting Temperature (Tm)
• Identification of unknown polymers based on the Tm
• To determine the best processing temperatures (curing, injection moulding etc.)
• Comparing quality (failure analysis, new material evaluation)
• To monitor the effects of aging on polymers
• Determination of phase separation (polymer blend, co-polymer)
• Estimating percent crystallinity of polymers
• Measurement of the heat capacity and enthalpy of polymers
• Determination of thermal stability of polymers
• Determination of the effect of additives
• Estimation of upper use temperature for polymers

Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA)

• Mapping the “viscoelastic spectrum”, which shows temperature (and time) dependent modulus changes from hard/rigid to soft/rubbery
• Determining the glass transition temperature (Tg) of polymers
• Tracking the changes in elastic (or shear) modulus as a function of frequency
• Characterizing “damping” behaviour: dissipation of mechanical energy through internal motion (loss modulus, tan delta)
• Comparing mechanical properties of different polymers (quality, failure analysis, new material qualification)
• Studying phase separation of polymer blends or copolymers
• Determining effects of physical aging, crosslinking or post-cure on mechanical properties and glass transition
• Evaluating changes in the mechanical performance imparted by inorganic fillers and/or processing additives
• Transient measurements for evaluating creep, stress relaxation and stress-strain properties

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)

• Identification of functional groups of polymer samples
• Qualitative analysis of polymer starting materials and finished products
• Contamination analysis

Raman spectroscopy

• Analysis of the chemical structure of polymer chains
• Analysis of the interactions between polymer chains

UV/Visible Spectroscopy

• Detection of chromophores in a sample
• Determination of the chromophore monomer ratio in co-polymers

Fluorescenece Spectroscopy

• Characterization of polymers containing fluorescent materials (autofluorophores)
• Characterization of polymers containing fluorescent labels

X-Ray Powder Diffraction (XRD)

• Study of solid-state structural properties such as the degree of crystallinity for semi crystalline, amorphous polymers and composites
• Assessment and quantification of the crystalline phases (polymorphism), polytypes and all types of solid state molecular arrangements
• Identification of semi-crystalline polymers in a polymer sample
• Determination of the orientation of crystalline and non-crystalline materials

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR)

• Solution state NMR of polymers for stereochemical sequence analysis and for the chemical structure identification and molecular weight determination (Depends on the availability of a suitable solvent for the polymer and the viscosity of the resulting solution)
• Solid state NMR is used to analyse insoluble polymers or those that do not melt
• The purity of the polymer can be determined

Inductively Coupled Plasma- Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

• Analysis of trace elements in digested polymer samples

Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS)

• Analysis of trace elements in digested polymer samples

X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF)

• Non-destructive elemental analysis of finished polymers

CHNS Analysis

• To determine the C, H, N and S content of polymers

Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDX)

• SEM in combination with EDX can allow the identification of the spatial elemental composition

Particle Size Analysis

• Particle size analysis of fillers and polymers