Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Masters in Chemical Science


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Marina Koether

Second Advisor

Dr. Heather Abbott-Lyon

Third Advisor

Dr. Mark Mitchell


Plastic pollution is a huge problem in the world. Plastics can be oxidized in the environment due to UV radiation. Carbonyl Index is a measure of oxidation and is determined by ATR-FTIR. Contact angle is the measure of hydrophilicity and is determined by a goniometer. In the environment, plastics undergo oxidation which increases hydrophilicity. This study compares three different plastics, polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene, for oxidation and hydrophilicity. These plastics have undergone weathering via UV radiation over time. Results will show the relationship between carbonyl index and contact angle. As carbonyl index increases, contact angle decreases. While there is a general trend between the two, the actual values for each plastic are different. This knowledge will help future forensic scientists determine the age of plastics discovered at crime scenes.

Available for download on Thursday, May 06, 2027