Molecular defects critically impact the properties of materials. Here we introduce a paradigm called isotopic labeling disassembly spectrometry (ILDaS) that facilitates unprecedented precise experimental correlations between elastically inactive network defects (dangling chains and primary loops) and network formation kinetics and precursor structure. ILDaS is inspired by classical crossover experiments, which are often used to interrogate whether a reaction mechanism proceeds via an inter- or intramolecular pathway. We show that if networks are designed from labeled bifunctional monomers that transfer their labels to multifunctional junctions upon network formation, then the extent of junction labeling correlates directly with the number of dangling chains and cyclic imperfections within the network. We demonstrate two complementary ILDaS approaches that enable defect measurements with short analysis times, low cost, and synthetic versatility applicable to a broad range of network materials including polydisperse polymer precursors. The results will spur new experimental and theoretical investigations into the interplay between polymer network structure and properties.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry