Polyethyleneimines also known as polyziridine is a polymer containing an amine group. Linear polyethyleneimines adopt solid form at room temperature, while branched polyethyleneimines are liquids across molecular weights. Linear polyethyleneimines are soluble in hot water, methanol, ethanol as well as chloroform. Polyethyleneimines are industrially manufactured and find applications which are mainly derived from its polycatonic chemical character. Linear polyethyleneimines are synthesized by the hydrolysis of poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline), while branched polyethyleneimines are synthesized by ring opening polymerization of aziridine. Different degree of branching can be achieved through different reaction conditions.
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Polyethyleneimines are employed in various end-use products such as detergents, adhesives, cosmetics and as water treatment agent. It is also applied as a wet strength agent in the paper manufacturing process, and as flocculent with silica sols. Apart from these the chemical has several specialized applications. Due to its polycatonic property it is used as an attachment promoter in the cell culture of weak anchoring cells. It is also used as a transfection reagent as it has the capability to condense DNA to positively charged particles, which bind to negatively charged cell surface residues, and are introduced to a cell through endocytosis. Polyethyleneimines are also used to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Sulfonated polyethyleneimines is also useful as blood anti-coagulant.
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The market for polyethyleneimines is primarily driven by its applications in detergents, adhesives and water treatment. However with the favorable properties, it has enormous scope to grow in the niche applications such as transfection. Major demand for polyethyleneimines is derived from the North America and Europe market, while Asia Pacific has exhibited the fastest growth rate among all markets mainly due to the increasing growth and purchasing power in this region. Some of the industrial manufacturers of polyethyleneimines are Hisunny Chemical Co.Ltd., Alfa Aesar, Serva Electrophoresis GmbH and Leap Labchem Co. Ltd. among others.