The radiation chemistry and the grafting of a fluoropolymer, poly(tetrafluoroethylene-co-perfluoropropyl vinyl ether) (PFA), was investigated with the aim of developing a highly-stable grafted support for use in solid phase organic chemistry (SPOC). A radiation-induced grafting method was used whereby the PFA was exposed to ionizing radiation to form free radicals capable of initiating graft copolymerization of styrene. To fiiUy investigate this process, both the radiation chemistry of PFA and the grafting of styrene to PFA were examined.
Radiation alone was found to have a detrimental effect on PFA when irradiated at 303 K. This was evident from the loss in the mechanical properties due to chain scission reactions. This meant that when radiation was used for the grafting reactions, the total radiation dose needed to be kept as low as possible. The radicals produced when PFA was exposed to radiation were examined using electron spin resonance specfroscopy. Both main-chain (-CF2-C˙F-CF2-) and end-chain (-CF2-C˙F2) radicals were identified. The stability of the majority of the main-chain radicals when the polymer was heated above the glass fransition temperature suggested that they were present mainly in the crystalline regions of the polymer, while the end-chain radicals were predominately located in the amorphous regions. The radical yield at 77 K was lower than the radical yield at 303 K suggesting that cage recombination at low temperatures inhibited free radicals from stabilizing.
High-speed MAS 19F NMR was used to identify the non-volatile products after irradiation of PFA over a wide temperature range. The major products observed over the irradiation temperature 303 to 633 K included new saturated chain ends, short fluoromethyl side chains in both the amorphous and crystalline regions, and long branch points. The proportion of the radiolytic products shifted from mainly chain scission products at low irradiation temperatures to extensive branching at higher irradiation temperatures. Calculations of G values revealed that net crosslinking only occurred when PFA was irradiated in the melt. Minor products after irradiation at elevated temperatures included internal and terminal double bonds and CF3 groups adjacent to double bonds. The volatile products after irradiation at 303 K included tetrafluoromethane (CF4) and oxygen-containing species from loss of the perfluoropropyl ether side chains of PFA as identified by mass specfrometry and FTIR spectroscopy.
The chemical changes induced by radiation exposure were accompanied by changes in the thermal properties of the polymer. Changes in the crystallinity and thermal stability of PFA after irradiation were examined using DSC and TGA techniques. The equilibrium melting temperature of unfreated PFA was 599 K as determined using a method of extrapolation of the melting temperatures of imperfectly formed crystals. After low temperature irradiation, radiation-induced crystallization was prevalent due to scission of strained tie molecules, loss of perfluoropropyl ether side chains, and lowering of the molecular weight which promoted chain alignment and hence higher crystallinity. After irradiation at high temperatures, the presence of short and long branches hindered crystallization, lowering the overall crystallinity. The thermal stability of the PFA decreased with increasing radiation dose and temperature due to the infroduction of defect groups.
Styrene was graft copolymerized to PFA using γ-radiation as the initiation source with the aim of preparing a graft copolymer suitable as a support for SPOC. Various grafting conditions were studied, such as the total dose, dose rate, solvent effects and addition of nitroxides to create "living" graft chains. The effect of dose rate was examined when grafting styrene vapour to PFA using the simultaneous grafting method. The initial rate of grafting was found to be independent of the dose rate which implied that the reaction was diffusion controlled. When the styrene was dissolved in various solvents for the grafting reaction, the graft yield was strongly dependent of the type and concentration of the solvent used. The greatest graft yield was observed when the solvent swelled the grafted layers and the substrate. Microprobe Raman spectroscopy was used to map the penetration of the graft into the substrate. The grafted layer was found to contain both poly(styrene) (PS) and PFA and became thicker with increasing radiation dose and graft yield which showed that grafting began at the surface and progressively penetrated the substrate as the grafted layer was swollen. The molecular weight of the grafted PS was estimated by measuring the molecular weight of the non-covalently bonded homopolymer formed in the grafted layers using SEC. The molecular weight of the occluded homopolymer was an order of magnitude greater than the free homopolymer formed in the surrounding solution suggesting that the high viscosity in the grafted regions led to long PS grafts. When a nitroxide mediated free radical polymerization, was used, grafting occurred within the substrate and not on the surface due to diffusion of styrene into the substrate at the high temperatures needed for the reaction to proceed.
Loading tests were used to measure the capacity of the PS graft to be functionialized with aminomethyl groups then further derivatized. These loading tests showed that samples grafted in a solution of styrene and methanol had superior loading capacity over samples graft using other solvents due to the shallow penetration and hence better accessibility of the graft when methanol was used as a solvent.