Fluorine is the most electronegative of all the elements, and it has one of the highest ionization potentials. When substituted for one or more hydrogen atoms, fluorine’s presence in a molecule can have a profound effect on physical properties, reactivity, biological activity, solvency and stability.
The following are just a few of the numerous applications that benefit from fluorochemistry:
- Pharmaceuticals – Fluorinated compounds have shown efficacy as antibacterials, antifungals, antibiotics, anesthetics, protease inhibitors and anticancer agents, among many other applications.
- Agricultural Chemicals – Fluorinated compounds are used as fungicides, herbicides and insecticides and often show more potency than their non-fluorinated analogues. The increased potency allows lower application rates.
- Advanced Photoresists – In the quest for finer features in semiconductor lithography, photoresist polymers incorporating fluorine and/or fluorinated substituents exhibit the best combination of optical transparency at shorter wavelengths, etch resistance and solubility.
- Liquid Crystals – For use in display devices, the addition of fluorine has been found to change viscosity, miscibility, electrical properties, steric characteristics and other qualities that are important to these devices.
- Fluorinated Surfactants – Utilized as emulsifying and dispersing agents, while related compounds are used as repellant finishes or soil-release finishes for textiles, these compounds rely on the ability of fluorine to alter surface-energy properties.
- Dyes – The addition of fluorine or fluorinated substituents, such as the CF3 group, has been found to improve the fixation yield, lightfastness and chemical resistance of dyes.
- Fluoroplastics and Fluoroelastomers – Used as coatings, vessel liners, films, wiring insulation, gaskets, seals, lab equipment and hoses because of their chemical and thermal stability.
- Ion-Exchange Membranes – Fluoropolymer membranes are used for enhanced chemical and thermal stability in harsh environments.