• interaction chromatography;
  • polymer;
  • molecular characterization


Liquid chromatography (LC) is a powerful tool for the characterization of synthetic polymers, that are inherently heterogeneous in molecular weight, chain architecture, chemical composition, and microstructure. Of different versions of the LC methods, size exclusion chromatography (SEC) is most commonly used for the molecular weight distribution analysis. SEC separates the polymer molecules according to the size of a polymer chain, a well-defined function of molecular weight for linear homopolymers. The same, however, cannot be said of nonlinear polymers or copolymers. Hence, SEC is ill suited for and inefficient in separating the molecules in terms of chemical heterogeneity, such as differences in chemical composition of copolymers, tacticity, and functionality. For these purposes, another chromatographic method called interaction chromatography (IC) is found as a better tool because its separation mechanism is sensitive to the chemical nature of the molecules. The IC separation utilizes the enthalpic interactions to vary adsorption or partition of solute molecules to the stationary phase. Thus, it is used to separate polymers in terms of their chemical composition distribution or functionality. Further, the IC method has been shown to give rise to much higher resolution over SEC in separating polymers by molecular weight. We present here our recent progress in polymer characterization with this method. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 43: 1591-1607, 2005