AbstractPolymers are widely used industry, but degrade due to environmental conditions, such as elevated temperature or radiation. The degradation of polymers is dominated oxidation in oxygenated environments. Such oxidation is commonly referred to as thermal-oxidation or photo-oxidation and in many situations is heterogeneous through thickness of the polymer. While heterogeneous oxidation of polymers is a common phenomenon, the effect on the lifetime of polymers is not well understood as methods to evaluate such oxidation are time consuming and challenging to implement. Here we show a novel method for quantitative evaluation of heterogeneous oxidation in polymers using a fast and accurate color approach. The proposed color approach was observed to improve the efficiency of obtaining heterogenous oxidation profiles in half the time of common approaches, such as indention or Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Furthermore, the method was found to produce trends similar to that observed using common approaches and the applicability of the method was verified by mapping oxygen concentration through thickness using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Lastly, the utility of the proposed method was demonstrated through the generation of an oxidation design space, which is envisioned to assist with designing experiments towards estimation of polymer lifetime. We anticipate this work to be a starting point for further evaluation of heterogeneous oxidation in polymers using optical properties.
Published: March 31, 2023