One of the key issues in advanced polymer research is the necessity to characterise large, complex molecules. Polymers are not created uniform but prepared as a large, complex mixture of materials of varying size. Branched, functional materials are even more complex and require greater attention to detail. These compounds are chemically identical so many of the traditional ‘chemical’ methods of analysis are not suitable for differentiation, but there are a range of specialist methods that can be employed in these cases.
One of our favourite tools for investigating polymer solution properties is fluorescence tagging. By measuring the interaction of dyes on, or around, the polymer backbone it is possible to accurately infer information about the material shape and structure in solution.