Asymmetric Flow Field Flow Fractionation (AF4) - A Powerful Method for Polymer Characterization

Stepan Podzimek,¹ Petr Lebeda,² Christoph Johann,³ Thomas Jocks³
¹SYNPO, 532 07 Pardubice, Czech Republic
²University of Pardubice, Faculty of Chemical Technology, Institute of Polymeric Materials, 532 10 Pardubice, Czech Republic
³Wyatt Technology Europe, DE-56307 Dernbach, Germany

The AF4-MALS combined technique can serve as a routine method for polymer analysis and characterization. AF4 provides separation efficiency entirely comparable with traditionally used and so far dominating SEC. In addition, it yields superior separation of branched polymers, polymers containing ultra high molar mass fractions up to at least 108 g/mol, and nanoparticles. This contribution outlines the theoretical background of the method and shows several examples of its use, e.g. separation of high molecular weight polymers and particles.  While SEC will certainly continue to be the most frequently employed method of polymer analysis, for many samples the description of molecular structure is more detailed if both SEC and AF4 are used. The possibility to run both SEC and AF4 on the same experimental set-up makes the AF4 method a powerful and versatile tool for the characterization of a variety of synthetic and natural polymers and related materials.

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