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High Temperature Quadruple-Detector Size Exclusion Chromatography for Topological Characterization of Polyethylene

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journal contribution
posted on 30.04.2018, 00:00 by Laura Plüschke, Robert Mundil, Anatolij Sokolohorskyj, Jan Merna, Jens-Uwe Sommer, Albena Lederer
Modifying material properties in simple macromolecules such as polyethylene (PE) is achieved by different connection modes of ethylene monomers resulting in a plurality of possible topologies–from highly linear to dendritic species. However, the challenge still lies within the experimental identification of the topology and conformation of the isolated macromolecules because of their low solubility, which demands methods with specific solvents and high operating temperatures. Additionally, a separation technique has to be coupled to different detection methods to meet the specific demands of the respective characterization goal. In this work, we report a quadruple-detector high temperature size exclusion chromatography (HT-SEC) system which contains online multiangle laser light scattering, dynamic light scattering, differential viscometry, and differential refractometry detectors. Quadruple-detector HT-SEC was successfully applied to explore the full range of physical parameters of various PE samples with different branching topologies ranging from highly linear macromolecules, polymers with moderate level of branching, to highly branched PEs with hyperbranched structure. This method is a useful tool not only to investigate molecular weight, mass distribution, and size but also to enable access to important factors which describe the conformation in dilute solution and branching density.