Journal of Inorganic and Organometallic Polymers and Materials

, 16:407

First online:

Gas Diffusion and Solubility in Poly(organophosphazenes): Results of Molecular Simulation Studies

  • Joel R. FriedAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Cincinnati Email author 

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A combination of quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics, and Monte Carlo methods have been used to investigate gas diffusion and solubility in three isomeric poly[di(butoxyphosphazenes)] and in amorphous and crystalline states of poly[bis(2,2,2-trifluoroethoxyphosphazene)] (PTFEP). In this review of recently published studies reported from our laboratory, conclusions are reached in regards to the relationship between polymer structure and gas diffusion and sorption in poly(organophosphazenes). These conclusions also serve to validate our current understanding of the nature of gas transport in other polymers. Specifically, gas diffusivity has been shown to increase with increasing side-chain and main-chain mobility as determined from vectorial autocorrelation function analysis; however, high diffusivity is accompanied by a loss in diffusive selectivity resulting in decreasing permselectivity with increasing permeability. Simulation of crystalline supercells of PTFEP indicate that gas diffusion is unrestricted in the crystalline state as has been reported only for a few other polymers, principally poly(4-methyl-1-pentene). Gas solubility in poly(organophosphazenes) correlates well with gas condensability as measured by the Lennard–Jones potential well depth parameter, ɛ/k. Exceptions are cases where specific interactions can occur between gas molecules and the polymer chain such as is the case of CO2 and PTFEP. High-level ab initio calculations of the interaction of CO2 with low-molecular-weight fluoroalkanes indicate the presence of a weak quadrupole–dipole interaction. Association of CO2 with the trifluoromethyl groups of the trifluoroethoxy side chain of PTFEP has been confirmed by radial distribution function (RDF) analysis of MD trajectories. Comparison between solubility coefficients obtained from Grand Canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) simulations of amorphous cells with experimental values of microcrystalline PTFEP indicates that gas solubility in polyphosphazenes such as PTFEP that exhibit a mesophase/crystalline state is greatly reduced.


Poly(organophosphazenes) molecular simulations gas permeability membrane separations