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Polycaprolactone: A Promising Addition to the Sequential Infiltration Synthesis Polymer Family Identified through In Situ Infrared Spectroscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 21.10.2020, 21:06 by Mahua Biswas, Joseph A. Libera, Seth B. Darling, Jeffrey W. Elam
Infiltration of inorganic oxides inside polymers using sequential infiltration synthesis (SIS) is an effective method for creating materials for a broad range of applications. The reactions between various polymer functional groups and organometallic/inorganic precursors are unique, which makes it essential to understand the specific interactions for a range of precursors and polymers to enable predictive process design and to extend the utility of SIS to applications. In this paper, in situ Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) measurements have been performed during Al2O3 and TiO2 SIS in three different homopolymers: poly­(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), poly­(ε-caprolactone) (PCL), and poly­(2-vinylpyridine) (P2VP). From the FTIR intensity changes after precursor exposure and during the subsequent purge times, it is shown quantitatively that the interaction dynamics and the stability of the intermediate complexes of these polymers with the metal precursors are substantially different. A key finding from this comparative study is that PCL interacts far more strongly with metal precursors, even though its carbonyl (CO) and ester (C–O–R) functional groups are similar to those of the more weakly interacting PMMA. This behavior suggests that additional factors beyond the identity of the functional groups dictate how polymers interact with metal compounds in SIS. PCL, which has not previously been reported in SIS processes, may be an attractive polymeric template for implementing SIS with improved uniformity and cost-effectiveness.