Gel permeation chromatography. I. A new method for molecular weight distribution of high polymers



Polystyrene gels crosslinked in the presence of diluents have been made in fine-mesh bead form suitable for packing into chromatographic columns. A series of narrow molecular weight range polymer fractions was eluted through such columns with aromatic and chlorinated solvents. Effluent concentrations were detected and recorded by a continuous differential refractometer. The fractions were shown to be efficiently separated. Columns capable of separating adjacent polymeric samples of high molecular weight were prepared from gels crosslinked in the presence of large amounts of diluents having little or no solvent action on polystyrene. Smaller proportions of diluents and those with more solvent action yielded columns with lower molecular weight permeability limits. Such studies provided a unique quantitative view of the topology of the gels. They also demonstrated that rapid repetitive molecular weight distribution data can be obtained in this way on polymers for which solvents compatible with the gels are available.