A detailed surface analytical study of degradation processes in (meth)acrylic polymers

Alexander H Soeriyadi, Vanessa Trouillet, Francesca Bennet, Michael Bruns, Michael R. Whittaker, Cyrille Boyer, Philip Baker, Thomas P. Davis, Christopher Barner-Kowollik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigates the degradation behavior of various high-molecular-weight acrylic polymers (50,000 < M n/g mol -1 < 100,000), namely poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), poly(n-butyl methacrylate) (PBMA), poly(n-butyl acrylate) (PBA), and poly(lauryl methacrylate) (PLMA), under extreme environmental conditions. These polymers were synthesized via various polymerization techniques to create different end-groups. The polymers chosen are readily applicable in the formulation of surface coatings and were degraded under conditions which replicate the harsh Australian climate, where surface coatings may reach temperatures of up to 95 °C and are exposed to broad-spectrum UV radiation of up to 1 kW m -2. The degradation behavior of the polymeric materials on their surface was followed via ATR-IR spectroscopy, high resolution FTIR microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The extent of the observed thermal and photo-oxidation is directly related to the length of the ester side group, with the degradation susceptibility decreasing in the order of PLMA > PBMA/PBA > PMMA, with PMMA still stable even after 5 months exposure to the harshest condition used (UV light at 95 °C). The general degradation mechanism involves the loss of the ester side groups to form methacrylic acid followed by cross-linking. The effect of the variable end groups was found to be minimal. The results from this study are in good agreement with previous studies of low-molecular-weight model polymers under identical conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1801-1811
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • (meth)acrylic polymers
  • high resolution FTIR microscopy
  • polymer degradation
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)

Cite this