Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Synthetic resins and elastomers play an important role commercially as well as on the domestic scale. As a consequence, a great deal of research has been done and is being conducted to process polymers or to modify them using nuclear radiation techniques. Polymerization-reactions can be induced by radiation as against normal catalytic or thermal processes. Polymers themselves can be modified, and, in fact, "tailor-made" by irradiation methods to suit the demand. This thesis consists of two principal divisions. The first part covers investigations on the crosslinking behaviour of commercial styrofoam when the latter is exposed to cobalt-60 gamma-rays. Crosslinking of a polymer ultimately leads to the formation of a single gigantic molecule with altered properties. Studies have been conducted to determine the extent of crosslink formation in vacuum, oxygen, and in the presence of divinyl benzene at varying total dose. In the second part of the thesis, research has been carried out on the radiation-induced polymerization of oc-methylstyrene at temperatures below 0 °C in an effort to study the mechanism of the process; it has been reported in the literature that, at low temperatures, an ionic mechanism prevails when the system is irradiated in the 'dry' or anhydrous state. In these studies, the monomer was irradiated at different temperatures (60°C), using two types of drying agents; the total dose was varied, and in one set of experiments high intensity irradiation was employed. This is the dawning of an age of awareness. Awareness that the world could be passing into a stage of ecological imbalance. It cannot be denied that one of the culprits is the chemical industry. However, with adequate precautions against radiation hazards, and providing that the economics of the techniques are justified, chemical processes by nuclear radiation might very well be one of the answers to a cleaner environment -that, and the atomic engine.