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Molecular Characterization of Ultrahigh Molar Mass and Soluble Fractions of Partially Cross-Linked Polyethylenes

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A reliable method is described for analyzing ultrahigh molar mass polyethylene (UHMW-PE) with a weight-average molar mass of 5700 kg/mol and molar mass fractions up to 50,000 kg/mol by size exclusion chromatography (SEC) without molecular degradation as was proved by comparison of on-line and off-line viscometry. The use of low-bleed SEC columns (PLgel 20 µm Mixed-A LS), especially designed for on-line light-scattering detectors, allowed SEC to be coupled to a low-angle laser light-scattering detector without a filter ahead of the light-scattering cell. With this procedure, molded specimens of UHMW-PE, which are used for medical implants, such as hip endoprostheses, containing various amounts of α-tocopherol as a biocompatible stabilizer, were investigated. Furthermore, the effect of sterilization of the samples by -irradiation (60Co, 1.33 MeV, absorbed dose: 25 kGy) was studied with respect to the content of insoluble cross-linked material and the molar mass distribution of the soluble fraction.

Keywords: Low-angle laser light scattering (LALLS); Size exclusion chromatography (SEC); Ultrahigh molar mass polyethylene (UHMW-PE); Viscometry; α-Tocopherol; -Sterilization

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institut für Chemie der Kunststoffe, Montanuniversität Leoben, Leoben, Austria

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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