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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013 Nov;405(28):9033-40. doi: 10.1007/s00216-013-7282-6. Epub 2013 Aug 24.

Separation and composition distribution determination of triblock copolymers by thermal field-flow fractionation.

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Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry, Colorado School of Mines, 1500 Illinois Street, Golden, CO, 80401, USA.


Thermal field-flow fractionation (ThFFF) is used to separate a linear triblock copolymer of polystyrene, poly(tert-butyl acrylate), and poly(methyl methacrylate) by composition. Fractions were collected and subjected to off-line NMR analysis. The resultant mole fraction versus retention time plots for each of the three polymer components confirmed the success of the separation and yielded the composition distribution of the copolymer. The composition distribution was also obtained using a second approach that involved solving a series of equations comprised of polymer thermal diffusion coefficients and quasi-elastic light scattering, differential refractometry, and UV detector responses. Both sets of data showed similar trends of composition variations in each polymer component as a function of retention time. However, discrepancies were observed in the mole fraction values. The ability to compositionally separate and to determine composition distribution of copolymers is important as demonstrated by the presence of diblock impurities in the ThFFF with off-line NMR results.

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