Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) imaging coupled with principal component analysis (PCA) is used to characterize the photooxidation of polypropylene (PP) and identify the photooxidative products at different oxidation times. PP slices were exposed to ultraviolet (UV) irradiation for times up to 60 hours and spatially resolved spectra were acquired with a transmission FT-IR imaging system in order to view the steric inhomogeneity of the photooxidation process of PP. The evolution of the oxidized products with irradiation time is shown through the application of PCA. Carboxylic acid is the major oxidized product in the initial period from 0 h to 8 h while ketone becomes the major product with the increase of irradiation time. Carboxylic anhydride is identified for the first time to our knowledge in oxidized PP after 16 h irradiation. Carboxylate ester is also observed in the oxidized PP after 32 h irradiation. Possible mechanisms forming these products have been discussed.
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