The conformational change of isotactic poly(propylene) (iPP) during the thermal degradation process has been carefully studied by <i>in situ</i> Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. This new method of studying thermal degradation of iPP not only shows the conventional kinetic parameter information of thermal degradation such as the degradation activation energy Δ<i>E</i> and the degradation factor <i>n</i>, which are in accord with the results of traditional thermogravimetry experiments, but also indicates that many significant molecular structure changes occur during the thermal degradation process that come from some characteristic absorption band changes of <i>in situ</i> FT-IR. A multivariate approach, principal components analysis (PCA), is applied to the analysis of infrared (IR) data, and the results further confirm the multi-step processes of the thermal degradation of iPP. Above all, this is a new application to polymer thermal degradation by<i> in situ</i> FT-IR that connects the intermediate conformational change with final results during thermal degradation.
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