Conformational analysis investigation into the influence of nano-porosity of ultra-permeable ultra-selective polyimides on its diffusivity as potential membranes for use in the «green» separation of natural gases

Author's Department

Chemistry Department

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Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Journal of Physics: Conference Series

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Nano-porous polymers of intrinsic microporosity, PIM, have exhibited excellent permeability and selectivity characteristics that could be utilized in an environmentally friendly gas separation process. A full understanding of the mechanism through which these membranes effectively and selectively allow for the permeation of specific gases will lead to further development of these membranes. Three factors obviously influenced the conformational behavior of these polymers, which are the presence of electronegative atoms, the presence of non-linearity in the polymeric backbones (backbone kinks) and the presence of bulky side groups on the polymeric chains. The dipole moment increased sharply with the presence of backbone kinks more than any other factor. Replacing the fluorine atoms with bulky alkyl groups didn't influence the dipole moment greatly indicating that the size of the side chains had much less dramatic influence on the dipole moment than having a bent backbone. Similarly, the presence of the backbone kinks in the polymeric chains influenced the polymeric chains to assume less extended configuration causing the torsional angles around the interconnecting bonds unable to cross the high potential energy barriers. The presence of the bulky side groups also caused the energy barriers of the cis-configurations to increase dramatically, which prevented the polymeric segments from experiencing full rotation about the connecting bonds. For these polymers, it was clear that the fully extended configurations are the preferred configurations in the absence of strong electronegative atoms, backbones kinks or bulky side groups. The addition of any of these factors to the polymeric structures resulted in the polymeric chains being forced to assume less extended configurations. Rather interestingly, the length or bulkiness of the side groups didn't affect the end-to-end distance distribution to a great deal since the presence of quite large bulky side chain such as the pentyl group has caused the polymeric chains to revert back to the fully extended configurations possibly due to the quite high potential energy barriers that the chains have to cross to reach the less extended configurational states.

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