What does UV radiation actually do to degrade plastics?

All types of UV can cause a photochemical effect within the polymer structure, which can lead to degradation of some sort to the material. The higher energy UVC is the type most likely to affect plastics.

 

Absorbed UV energy can excite the photons in a plastic. Exciting the photons can create free radicals. While many pure plastics cannot absorb UV radiation, the presence of catalyst residues and other impurities (examples: oxygen, sodium) even at trace amounts, will often act as free radical receptors. Those free radicals can cause breaks in the polymer bonds.

Article Title:
What does UV radiation actually do to degrade plastics?
Article Summary:
Absorbed UV energy can excite the photons in a plastic.
Article Date:
12/11/2009
Article ID:
858
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