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Heterogeneous polymer modification: Polyolefin maleation in supercritical carbon dioxide and amorphous fluoropolymer surface modification

Heather J Hayes, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Three distinct heterogeneous polymer modification reactions are explored in this work. The first is a bulk reaction commonly conducted on polyolefins—the free radical addition of maleic anhydride. This reaction was run using supercritical carbon dioxide (SC CO2) as the solvent. The second was the chemical surface modification of an amorphous fluorocopolymer of tetrafluoroethylene and a perfluorodioxole monomer (Teflon AF). Several reactions were explored to reduce the surface of the fluorocopolymer for the enhancement of wettability. The last modification was also on Teflon AF and involved the physical modification of the surface through the transport polymerization of xylylene in order to synthesize a novel bilayer membrane. The bulk maleation of poly-4-methyl-1-pentene (PMP) was the focus of the first project. SC CO2 was utilized as both solvent and swelling agent to promote this heterogeneous reaction and led to successful grafting of anhydride groups on both PMP and linear low density polyethylene. Varying the reaction conditions and reagent concentrations allowed optimization of the reaction. The grafted anhydride units were found to exist as single maleic and succinic grafts, and the PMP became crosslinked upon maleation. The surface of a fluoropolymer can be difficult to alter. An examination of three reactions was made to determine the reactivity of Teflon AF: sodium naphthalenide treatment (Na-Nap), aluminum metal modification through deposition and dissolution, and mercury/ammonia photosensitization. The fluorocopolymer with the lower perfluorodioxole percentage was found to be more reactive towards modification with the Na-Nap treatment. The other modification reactions appeared to be nearly equally reactive toward both fluorocopolymers. The functionality of the Na-Nap-treated surface was examined in detail with the use of several derivatization reactions. In the final project, an asymmetric gas separation membrane was synthesized using Teflon AF as the highly permeable support layer and chemical vapor deposited poly(p-xylylene) (PPX) as the thin selective layer. This bilayer membrane has oxygen and nitrogen permeability values close to those predicted by the series resistance model. To enhance the weak adhesive bond between Teflon AF and PPX, Na-Nap reduction was used to modify the Teflon AF surface prior to the vapor deposition polymerization of di-p-xylylene monomer.

Subject Area

Polymers|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Hayes, Heather J, "Heterogeneous polymer modification: Polyolefin maleation in supercritical carbon dioxide and amorphous fluoropolymer surface modification" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9950159.