Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a manmade polymer that has particular applications in manufactured products because of the chemical properties of PTFE. PTFE is commonly known as Teflon (PTFE Teflon and was originally developed by the Dupont Corporation. Like all organic chemicals structure determines the unique characteristics of Teflon properties. PTFE is composed of carbon and fluorine.
PTFE properties include high molecular weight, hydrophobility, low coefficient of friction, thermoplasticity, good dielectric properties, high electronegativity, and low chemical reactivity.
The high molecular weight is a function of being a polymer. The number of mers (sub units) in PTFE is essentially infinite and can be considered to be the size of the object that is being formed or coated with PTFE.
PTFE is hydrophobic – water hating. Water, alcohols, and other highly polar oxygen and hydroxyl containing compound will not adhere to, absorb on, adsorb on, or wet Teflon because of the high electronegativity of the fluorine atoms and the size of the polymer orbital formed and the number of electrons in the polymer orbital. This property is a result of the high electronegativity of the polymer structure.
Teflon has a very low coefficient of friction. Coefficient of friction measures how easily a standard sized block of material will slide down a flat surface of a given material. The low coefficient of friction makes Teflon ideal for nonstick food cooking.
Theroplasticity means a polymer changes properties when heated or cooled. PTFE is relatively thermoplastic because of the of the bonding structure and the strength of the carbon to chlorine bonds. The overall stability of the polymer orbital structure is also a cause of the thermoplasticity. This means Teflon can be melted and formed into a multitude of shapes.
PTFE does not release electrons from the polymer orbital easily due to the strength of the carbon to fluorine bonds. This makes Teflon have good dielectric properties and makes it an ideal insulator. The bonding structure of PTFE prevents the transmission of electrons through the molecular orbital of the PTFE polymer.
The bonding structure of PTFE is very stable. Teflon is not very reactive to chemical agents because of the stability of the fluorine to carbon bonds.
The unique properties of PTFE are a result of the structure of the polymer units and the strength and stability of the carbon to fluorine bonds in the polymer.