Chemical Fingerprinting of Polymers Using Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy

Ruchi Pal, Laure Bourgeois, Matthew Weyland, Arun K. Sikder, Kei Saito, Alison M. Funston, Jayesh R. Bellare

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) is becoming an important tool in the characterization of polymeric materials. The sensitivity of EELS to changes in the chemical structure of polymeric materials dictates its applicability. In particular, it is important for compositional analysis to have reference spectra of pure components. Here, we report the spectra of the carbon K-edge of six polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene, polybutylene terephthalate, and polylactic acid) including copolymers (styrene acrylonitrile and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), to be used as reference spectra for future EELS studies of polymers. We have successfully decomposed the carbon K-edge of each of the polymers and assigned the observed peaks to bonding transitions. The spectra have been acquired in standard experimental conditions, and electron beam damage has been taken into account during establishment of spectral-structural relationships. We found that the more commonly available low-energy resolution spectrometers are adequate to chemically fingerprint linear saturated hydrocarbons such as PE, PP, and PLA. We have thus moved a step closer toward creating an atlas of polymer EELS spectra, which can be subsequently used for chemical bond mapping of polymeric materials with nanoscale spatial resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23934-23942
Number of pages9
JournalACS Omega
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2021

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