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STRUCTURE & PROPERTIES

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a vinyl polymer made of a carbon chain with two fluorine atoms attached to each carbon. A polymer is an extremely large molecule that is made of series of repeated subunits.  Fluorine is an element with an atomic number of 9 and thus it is readily looking for an electron, but it also has a very high electronegativity (the highest of all the elements) this makes it very reactive. The carbon fluorine creates a polar covalent bond which is extremely strong. The fluorine’s ‘hunger’ for another electron has now been satisfied by sharing one with the carbon, thus now making all the bonds satisfied and creates a very inert polymer (Polytetrafluoroethylene, 2018).

Teflon-Structure
Figure  1: ScienceABS, 2016. (PTFE structure). 

When fluorine is in a molecule it likes to be by itself and not next to other molecules, even molecules with fluorine in them and this causes it to repel nearly any other atom and molecules and nothing sticks to the polymer. It is also hydrophobic, which means it repels water. It has the lowest coefficient of friction of any known solid (0.05 – 0.1) and is extremely stick resistance. It is a white solid at room temperature and is a thermoplastic polymer, meaning it becomes mouldable above a specific temperature and solidifies upon cooling.  Specifically it has a melting point of 327 °C. Even at very low temperatures (up to −268.15 °C) it maintains good strength, high toughness and its anti-stick properties. PTFL is also flexible down to a temperature of −79 °C. PTFL is also has extremely good dielectric properties, meaning it inhibits electrical charge from flowing through it, thus making it very good at being an insulator. Also due to its non-reactivity and it’s resistance to aggressive chemicals, it is extremely wear resistant (How Products are Made, 2018).

 

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