Abstract by Jacob Nichols
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Characterization of Polymers Using Optical Techniques
Polymer products are common in daily life with applications ranging from plastic milk jugs to adhesives. This research proposes the use of optical techniques to characterize two polymers. The first polymer of concern is hypalon used in cable jackets. These cable jackets protect the contained wiring from environmental effects. As cables age, the polymer becomes more crystalline and more susceptible to cracking. We found that optical methods can successfully detect significant changes in signal response as aging increases. The second polymer of concern is Hydroxyl Terminated Polybutadiene (HTPB). HTPB is a polymer resin used as a binder for high energy explosives in military applications. This study focuses on using spectroscopy to analyze changes in HTPB polymers due to aging and mechanical stress. We have successfully recreated similar HTPB samples to the Navy and begun characterization with respect to mechanical deformation. For both polymers of concern, this research seeks to characterize the material through spectroscopic techniques.