Molecule of the Day: PTFE/Teflon
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon, is a commonly encountered and extremely useful perfluorinated polymer. It consists of repeating -(CF2)n- units, and is therefore considered a fluorocarbon.
PTFE is a solid that is both hydrophobic and oleophobic, and this useful quality has led to its usage in the coating of non-stick pans. It is also thermally stable, making it an appealing material for such purposes.
PTFE is also an electrical insulator and has a high melting point, which has led to its usage in wire coatings. Furthermore, it has one of the lowest friction coefficients known, so it is also used in industrial machines where sliding action is needed, such as bearings and gears.
It is produced via the free-radical polymerisation of tetrafluoroethylene (C2F4) using a radical initiator, which are usually persulfate salts.