Polymer Manufacturing

Gaining Valuable Insight into Polymers with High Resolution NMR

With major polymer manufacturers using NMR for materials analysis, this is making way for research into and development of brand new polymers.

Bruker’s industry-leading high resolution NMR solutions offer dedicated technology and accessories for the polymer industry.

Petrochemical and polymer companies have often been technology drivers and have adopted new technologies early on.  And as these companies have expanded their fields of research and diversified their products so have the applications of NMR in their laboratories.
NMR has made significant contributions in these companies in the discovery, development and production of novel materials and polymers.

The Benefits of High Resolution NMR

Quality control, production control, the structural analysis of polymers and raw materials, and the modifications of polymers are all areas that benefit from the unique capabilities of NMR.

Many of the samples that need to be investigated can be submitted to NMR analysis with minimal preparation which might affect structure or composition.
One characteristic that makes NMR suitable for polymer analysis is its highly linear response over a very large dynamic range. It is crucial in this field to be able to characterize an end-group of a polymer in the presence of near one million monomer repeats. As a primary quantitative ratio method NMR can provide an easy way to give the researchers not only a qualitative but also highly accurate quantitative view into their materials.

Gaining Insight with NMR

When analyzing polymers, researchers are interested in structural features of a polymer such as chain length, tacticity, branching or cross-linking. Tacticity describes how monomer units are arranged in the polymerchain, which could be head to head, head to tail, tail to tail or in irregular patterns. Chainlength can for example be established by careful quantitation of backbone versus endgroup signals.
Properties of polymers are additionally influenced by the use of co-polymers, modifiers, plasticizers and more. These can both affect whether a plastic is resistant to heat, resistant to chemicals, and whether it has the right amount of flexibility for its purpose, as well as other characteristics such as plasticity. Since NMR can give information about the dynamics of a molecule the effects on the flexibility of a molecule in solution as a function of modifications can be studied.

NMR Tools by Bruker for Polymer Analysis

Valuable tools developed by Bruker that aid in this type of blended material analysis include their high temperature probes, and large volume, cryogenically cooled probes. The latter being important as polymer samples are often highly viscous and hard to get into small diameter tubes. Additionally the large amounts of sample will allow more easily the detection of small amounts of impurities.

A heated sample changer allows that polymer samples can be kept at elevated temperatures and thus a liquid state from preparation to measurement.  Bruker has also developed a series of probes that are optimal for the analysis of fluorinated materials. These include conventional and cryogenically cooled probes that allow the simultaneous observation and decoupling of protons, carbon ald fluorine.

The scientists at Bruker have also collaborated with the researchers in polymer companies to newly develop and further improve experiments and measurement techniques to lead to better and more insightful results.

High resolution NMR can be put to work easily in these areas, and Bruker’s range of high resolution NMR technology and accessories gives researchers accessible and valuable insight into polymer products in this large-scale industry.

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Dr. René Jakelski, Daikin Chemical Europe GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany

"As one of the lucky beta-testers, Daikin was able to use the Fourier 80 to determine structures and impurities, for the QA of incoming material and novel synthesized components. Due to the self-explanatory user interface and the quick sample preparation even inexperienced users could be trained quickly and reliably. Coming from high-field NMR, we used the Fourier 80 for routine measurements, without the need for additional lab-space, and could free precious measurement times."