Date of Award

Spring 1991

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Wilkie, Charles

Second Advisor

Hoffman, Norman

Third Advisor

McKinney, Michael


In the past thirty years the presence of synthetic polymers in our daily lives has increased dramatically. Synthetic polymers are now used in a wide variety of application such as building materials, fabrics, and textiles; materials that are present in our homes, work place, and transportation. Although these synthetic materials are often less expensive, they are usually more flammable than the traditional materials they have replaced. The increased use of synthetic polymers has elevated the fire hazard, and has prompted scientists to investigate potential methods of reducing the flammability of synthetic polymers. Poly(methyl methacrylate), PMMA, is a water clear thermoplastic with good weatherability and excellent impact resistance. Pure PMMA has been used as safety glass and in other applications where strength and optical clarity are desired. The load baring ability and, dimensional stability of PMMA make it an ideal transparent construction material and it has been used extensively in these types of applications. Unfortunately PMMA has moderate thermal stability and burns as readily as a candle. This research group has investigated the use of additives that alter the thermal degradation pathway of PMMA. Studies have been conducted that examined the interaction of PMMA with various additives. These efforts were made in order to identify alternative degradation pathways that are favorable to the increased thermal stability of PMMA. Degradation pathways are elucidated by thermal analyses in conjunction with the spectroscopic analysis of thermolysis reaction products.