Rubber & Elastomers
Rubbers are a specific class of elastomeric polymers. They can be studied to determine their composition and source or examined for causes of failure.
As in polymer analysis, rubbers are initially characterized by light microscopy to determine if they are elastomeric and to ascertain whether fillers and/or colorants are present. The polymer matrices and the fillers comprising rubbers are typically first characterized by infrared spectroscopy and elemental analysis. Raman spectroscopy may also be used to identify colorants and fillers.
Siliconized rubbers (e.g., stoppers) are common sources of contamination which can be identified, even when present in trace quantities, and differentiated from silica and other forms of silicon.
Pyrolysis-GC-MS can be used to further characterize a rubber by rapidly heating the sample and breaking it down into smaller molecular fragments which are then identified by the mass spectrometer. Py-GC-MS has been used by our laboratory to even differentiate between automobile and airplane tire fragments as well as to identify specific elastomers and additives.