After a long two weeks, finally our second task of Applied Chemistry Laboratory II class is over. Although it was only in a laboratory scale, I’m satisfied since in this experiment we synthesized one of the most produced polymer fibre: Nylon 6. FYI, Nylon 6 has a wide variety of applications due to its good quality, including its transparency, its flame resisting property,and its strength. Nowdays, although a number of competitors are on the ring, nylon 6 is still widely used in bristles for toothbrushes, manufacture knitted garments, manufacture of a large variety of threads, ropes, filaments, nets, tire cords, etc.
By the way in our Laboratory,to synthesize Nylon 6, first, we must prepare the monomer (the unit of a polymer) called ε-caprolactam. We spent three days just to make a small amount of white powder, sometimes using an explosive hazardous concentrated Sulphuric Acid (the second step). The reaction briefly could be described as picture below. I’m sorry for the chemistry hater ^_^
Then on the fourth day, we polymerize the ε-caprolactam into nylon-6.During polymerization, the peptide bond within each caprolactam molecule is broken, with the active groups on each side re-forming two new bonds as the monomer becomes part of the polymer backbone as seen below:
Unlike all experiment i’ve already done all this time, at this time my desk partner and I changed our tactics, not to finish the procedure as fast as possible, but we focused on making the best and the cleanest product. As a consequence, my group was always being one of the latest group for discussions sessions everyday, but we’re sure that our products color and melting point shows that they’re highly purified. And our patience was paid on the end of the fourth day, when our lecturer Koyama Sensei from Polymer Eng. Dept. assigned each group to extend polymers we’ve created while it’s hot (about 230℃). One stood on one point and the partner run backward and extend the thread come out from the hot polymer. Averagely, our friends’ polymers extend to 4-6 meters, and just a few of them reach until more than 10 meters. Among them, our thread reached 13 meters!!!
Perhaps for professionals, this is just a little thing, but for us, this is a kind of leap. Yosh, Ganbarou for the next experiments!!!