Influence of polyimide precursor synthesis route and ortho-position functional group on thermally rearranged (TR) polymer properties: conversion and free volume

David F. Sanders, Ruilan Guo, Zachary P. Smith, Qiang Liu, Kevin A. Stevens, James E. McGrath, Donald R. Paul, Benny D. Freeman

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Thermal rearrangement of polyimides with ortho-position groups to polybenzoxazoles and related structures has been of recent interest for producing gas separation membranes. This study explores the influence of synthesis route and ortho-position functional group on the thermal rearrangement process and the fractional free volume of thermally rearranged (TR) polymers produced from polyimides derived from 3,3′-dihydroxy-4,4′-diamino- biphenyl and 2,2′-bis-(3,4-dicarboxyphenyl) hexafluoropropane dianhydride (HAB-6FDA). Acetate, propanoate, and pivalate ortho-position functional groups were considered. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was used to study thermal rearrangement at temperatures between 350 and 450°C, and evolved gases from TGA were analyzed via mass spectrometry to characterize the byproducts of thermal rearrangement and thermal degradation. CO2 was the major byproduct of thermal rearrangement for all samples, and its evolution began well before the onset of thermal degradation. When non-hydroxyl ortho-position groups were present in the polymers, several byproducts other than CO 2 were also observed due to the loss of these ortho-position groups before thermal rearrangement. Free volume generally increased with increasing extent of thermal rearrangement, but precise values of free volume could not be accurately determined for polymers with propanoate and pivalate ortho-position functional groups due to uncertainties in the chemical structure of partially converted materials. For polymers with acetate and hydroxyl ortho-position groups, free volume could be determined within the uncertainty of density measurements. Thermal rearrangement behavior and free volume results for acetate containing polymers synthesized via different routes were very similar. Based on these results, the chemical structure of the ortho-position functional group has a larger impact on TR polymer properties than the polyimide precursor synthesis route.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1636-1647
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Membrane
  • Polybenzoxazole
  • TR polymer

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