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J Chromatogr A. 2008 Aug 8;1201(2):208-14. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2008.05.072. Epub 2008 Jun 10.

Branched-polymer separations using comprehensive two-dimensional molecular-topology fractionation x size-exclusion chromatography.

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University of Amsterdam, Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Branching has a strong influence on the processability and properties of polymers. However, the accurate characterization of branched polymers is genuinely difficult. Branched molecules of a certain molecular weight exhibit the same hydrodynamic volumes as linear molecules of substantially lower weights. Therefore, separation by size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), will result in the co-elution of molecules with different molecular weights and branching characteristics. Chromatographic separation of the polymer molecules in sub-microm channels, known as molecular-topology fractionation (MTF), may provide a better separation based on topological differences among sample molecules. MTF elution volumes depend on both the topology and molar mass. Therefore co-elution of branched molecules with linear molecules of lower molar mass may also occur in this separation. Because SEC and MTF exhibit significantly different selectivity, the best and clearest separations can be achieved by combining the two techniques in a comprehensive two-dimensional (MTFxSEC) separation system. In this work such a system has been used to demonstrate branching-selective separations of star branched polymers and of randomly long-chain-branched polymers. Star-shaped polymers were separated from linear polymers above a column-dependent molecular weight or size.

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