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Precision polymers

SpecialChem / Apr 4, 2007

Coatings have traditionally been based on 'random' polymers, varying statistically in their molecular weight, degree of branching, and in the case of copolymers, the ratio between the different components. In recent years there have been considerable advances in controlling the structure of polymers more precisely, and a number of distinct polymer structures have been shown to be advantageous in specific situations. This technology review focuses on some of those polymers whose structure is as important as their chemical composition. Polymers which are interesting mainly because of the monomers they are made from (eg, biopolymers) but do not have a specific or unusual structure are not dealt with here, nor are 'polymer brushes' - a term which refers to a dense assembly of polymer chains tethered to a surface. The first synthetic polymer of significance in coatings was cellulose nitrate (nitrocellulose), late in the nineteenth century, followed by phenol formaldehyde in 1909, and alkyds in 1926.

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