• Lohtragon
  • Applications
  • Polymer Additives
  • Crosslinking Agents
  • Crosslinking Agents: Transform Your Polymers

    Crosslinking agents are a pivotal class of polymer additives that serve to create covalent links between individual polymer chains.

    This process essentially creates a three-dimensional network structure within the polymer matrix, which has significant consequences for the material’s mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties.

    The Special Case of Metal Salts as Crosslinking Agents

    The mechanisms through which metal salts induce crosslinking in polymers is crucial for controlling and optimizing the properties of the resulting materials. 

    • Coordination Bond Formation: Metal ions from the salt interact with electron-donating atoms (often oxygen, nitrogen, or sulfur) in the polymer to form coordination bonds.
    • Ionic Crosslinking: Some metal salts can also lead to ionic crosslinking where charged groups on the polymer interact with metal ions to form ionic bonds.
    • Chelation: Some polymer structures can encapsulate metal ions in a claw-like manner, leading to more stable crosslinks (complexation).

    Essential Properties Imparted by Crosslinking

    In a broader sense, the inclusion of crosslinking agents can be seen as a tool for engineering polymers to suit specialized applications. Properties imparted by crosslinking are: 

    • Mechanical Strength: Withstand greater stress and strain
    • Thermal Stability: Sustain higher temperatures without losing their shape or properties
    • Chemical Resistance: Making them immune to solvents, acids, and bases
    • Elasticity: Return to its original shape after being stretched or compressed

    Factors Influencing Mechanism

    • Metal Ion Characteristics: Different metal ions have different preferences for coordination numbers and geometries, affecting the crosslinking process.
    • Functional Group Availability: The density and type of functional groups in the polymer dictate the effectiveness of the crosslinking.
    • Environmental Conditions: Factors like pH, temperature, and time can influence which mechanism dominates.


    • Poly (acrylic acid) and Calcium Ions: Calcium ions can form ionic or coordination bonds with the carboxylic acid groups in poly (acrylic acid), leading to cross-linked hydrogels used in drug delivery.
    • Alginate and Calcium Ions: In this classic example, calcium ions lead to ionic crosslinking, often used in wound dressings and encapsulations.

    Joint Lohtragon® Product Development: Tailoring to Your Needs

    Do you have a specific need you would like to discuss?
    Our key competence is around metal salts and their optimization – with the core expertise for joint product development taking your individual requirements into account.


    Your contact for crosslinking agents

    Melissa Wlost


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