Current application of controlled degradation processes in polymer modification and functionalization



Ecological concerns over the accumulation of polymeric waste material and the demand for functionalized polymers in specialty applications have promoted extensive research on different controlled degradation processes and their use. The production of functionalized or modified polymers by conventional synthetic routes is expensive and time consuming. However, advances in degradation technology have become an enabling factor in the production of modified polymers and their functionalization. Mild irradiation, ozonization, and enzymatic routes are among the processes that have been explored for polymer modification. Biopolymers, such as chitosan, hyaluronic acids, and polyhydroxyalkanoates, are known to be suitable for a diverse number of applications, ranging from biomedical to organic-electronics. At the same time, their high molecular weight, crystallinity, and shelf degradability limit their utility. Controlled degradation processes can be used to prepare these types of polymers with reasonably low molecular weights and to generate radical species that help to stabilize these polymers or to initiate further beneficial reactions. In this article, we review the application of controlled degradation processes for polymer modification and functionalization. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013