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Porous graphite as platform for the separation and characterization of synthetic polymers - an overview

: Kot, David; Macko, Tibor; Arndt, Jan-Hendrik; Brüll, Robert


Journal of chromatography. A 1606 (2019), Art. 360038
ISSN: 0021-9673
Fraunhofer LBF ()
Porous Graphitic Carbon (PGC); Separation of Polymers; high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC); High-Temperature Liquid Chromatography (HTLC); Two-Dimensional Liquid Chromatography (2D-LC)

Porous graphite as sorbent differs significantly from all other HPLC column packings. It stands out due to its chemically extremely homogeneous surface, which moreover is planar on an atomic level. This sorbent, according to its non-polar but polarizable surface, is able to adsorb polar as well as non-polar small molecules as well as macromolecules. Moreover, it enables their separation induced by minute differences in their molecular architecture, which includes the aspects of planarity, branching or tacticity of macromolecules. Although graphite had already been used many years for the separation of small molecules, the application of porous graphite for separations in the domain of synthetic polymers has been rare. In 2009 it was found that porous graphite enables the separation of polyethylene and polypropylene on the basis of their full adsorption and desorption, when suitable solvents are used. This approach has led to the fast elaboration of HPLC systems for separations of various polar modified as well as non-polar polyolefins. Due to pronounced adsorptive interactions, porous graphite is applicable even at temperatures as high as 160 °C. The results presented in this paper manifest that porous graphite enables to obtain important information about the composition distribution of various synthetic polymers, the architecture of macromolecules (i.e., branching) or their tacticity, and underlines its enormous application potential.