Grafting onto cellulose and cellulose derivatives using ultraviolet irradiation

N. Geacintov, V. Stannett, E. W. Abrahamson, J. J. Hermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cellulose‐tendering properties of anthraquinone‐2,7‐disulfonic acid disodium salt have been successfully applied to graft various vinyl monomers onto cellulosic materials. A cellophane (or cellulose derivative) film is suspended in a solution containing monomer, solvent, dye, and water and irradiated with a 100‐w. AH‐4 mercury‐vapor lamp. The photoexcited dye molecule abstracts a hydrogen atom from the substrate. The radical formed on the cellulose backbone initiates vinyl polymerization and a graft polymer is formed. The grafted film may be up to three and one‐half times as heavy as the original substrate and has entirely different solubility characteristics. The degree of grafting is dependent on the monomer concentration in the solution and on the irradiation time. Maximum grafting is usually obtained employing a 24 hour irradiation period. The grafting is always accompanied by homopolymerization, which is not inhibited by atmospheric oxygen, but bubbling air through the solution will completely inhibit both the homopolymerization and the grafting. Substantial grafting can be obtained employing the following monomer‐solvent systems: acrylonitrile‐N,N‐dimethylformamide; acrylamide‐water; styrene‐acrylonitrile‐N,N‐dimethylformamide. Good evidence for grafting has been obtained by comparing the solubility characteristics of the graft with those of a physical mixture of the cellulose and the homopolymer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Polymer Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1960

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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