skip to main content

Title: Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization: Billion Times More Active Catalysts and New Initiation Systems

Approaching 25 years since its invention, atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) is established as a powerful technique to prepare precisely defined polymeric materials. This perspective focuses on the relation between structure and activity of ATRP catalysts, and the consequent choice of the initiating system, which are paramount aspects to well‐controlled polymerizations. The ATRP mechanism is discussed, including the effect of kinetic and thermodynamic parameters and side reactions affecting the catalyst. The coordination chemistry and activity of copper complexes used in ATRP are reviewed in chronological order, while emphasizing the structure–activity correlation. ATRP‐initiating systems are described, from normal ATRP to low ppm Cu systems. Most recent advancements regarding dispersed media and oxygen‐tolerant techniques are presented, as well as future opportunities that arise from progressively more active catalysts and deeper mechanistic understanding.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Macromolecular Rapid Communications
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Small molecule biomimetics inspired by the active site of the [FeFe]‐hydrogenase enzymes have shown promising electrocatalytic activity for hydrogen (H2) generation. However, most of the active‐site mimics based on [2Fe‐2S] clusters are not water‐soluble which limits the use of these electrocatalysts to organic media. Polymer‐supported [2Fe‐2S] systems, in particular, single‐site metallopolymer catalysts, have shown drastic improvements for electrocatalytic H2generation in aqueous milieu. [2Fe‐2S] complexes functionalized within well‐defined macromolecular supports via covalent bonding have demonstrated water solubility, enhanced site‐isolation, and improved chemical stability during catalysis. In this report, the synthesis of a new propanedithiolate (pdt)‐[2Fe‐2S] complex bearing a single α‐bromoester moiety for use in atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) is demonstrated as a novel metalloinitiator to prepare water‐soluble poly(2‐dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate) grafted (PDMAEMA‐g‐[2Fe‐2S]) metallopolymers. Using this approach, metallopolymers with controllable molecular weights (Mn= 5–40 kg mol−1) and low dispersity (Đ,Mw/Mn= 1.09–1.36) are prepared, which allows for the first time observation of the effect of the metallopolymers' chain length on the electrocatalytic activity. The ability to control the composition and molecular weight of these metallopolymers enables macromolecular engineering via ATRP of these materials to determine optimal structural features of metallopolymer catalysts for H2production.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) has been successfully employed for the preparation of various advanced materials with controlled architecture. New catalysts with strongly enhanced activity permit more environmentally benign ATRP procedures using ppm levels of catalyst. Precise control over polymer composition, topology, and incorporation of site specific functionality enables synthesis of well‐defined gradient, block, comb copolymers, polymers with (hyper)branched structures including stars, densely grafted molecular brushes or networks, as well as inorganic–organic hybrid materials and bioconjugates. Examples of specific applications of functional materials include thermoplastic elastomers, nanostructured carbons, surfactants, dispersants, functionalized surfaces, and biorelated materials.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) is a staple technique for the preparation of polymers with well‐defined architecture. In ATRP, the catalyst governs the equilibrium between propagating radicals and dormant species, thus affecting the polymerization control for a range of monomers and transferable atoms employed in the process. The design and the use of highly active catalysts could diminish the amount of transition metal complexes, extend ATRP to less active monomers and give access to new chain‐end functionalities. At the same time, very active catalysts can be involved in formation of organometallic species. Herein, the role of the catalyst on the ATRP equilibrium is carefully elucidated, together with recent observations on the impact of the catalyst nature on formation of organometallic species and relevant side reactions. Based on this knowledge, a perspective on the benefits and challenges that derive from the use of highly active ATRP catalysts is presented.

    more » « less
  4. Efficient transfer of halogen atoms is essential for controlling the growth of polymers in atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). The nature of halogens may influence the efficiency of the halogen atom transfer during the activation and deactivation processes. The effect of halogens can be associated with the C–X bond dissociation energy and the affinity of the halogens/halides to the transition metal catalyst. In this paper, we study the effect of halogens (Br vs. Cl) and reaction media in iron-catalyzed ATRP in the presence of halide anions as ligands. In Br-based initiating systems, polymerization of methacrylate monomers was well-controlled whereas Cl-based initiating systems provided limited control over the polymerization. The high affinity of the Cl atom to the iron catalyst renders it less efficient for fast deactivation of growing chains, resulting in polymers with molecular weights higher than predetermined by Δ[M]/[RX] o and with high dispersities. Conversely, Br can be exchanged with higher efficiency and hence provided good control over polymerization. Decreasing the polarity of the reaction medium improved the polymerization control. Polymerizations using ppm levels of the iron catalyst in acetonitrile (a more polar solvent) yielded polymers with larger dispersity values due to the slow rate of deactivation as opposed to the less polar solvent anisole, which afforded well-controlled polymers with dispersity <1.2. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Halogen exchange in atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) is an efficient way to chain‐extend from a less active macroinitiator (MI) to a more active monomer. This has been previously achieved by using CuCl/L in the equimolar amount to Pn−Br MI in the chain extension step. However, this approach cannot be effectively applied in systems based on regeneration of activators (ARGET ATRP), since they operate with ppm amounts of catalysts. Herein, a catalytic halogen exchange procedure is reported using a catalytic amount of Cu in miniemulsion ARGET ATRP to chain‐extend from a less active poly(n‐butyl acrylate) (PBA) MI to a more active methyl methacrylate (MMA) monomer. Influence of different reagents on the initiation efficiency and dispersity is studied. Addition of 0.1mNaCl or tetraethylammonium chloride to ATRP of MMA initiated by methyl 2‐bromopropionate leads to high initiation efficiency and polymers with low dispersity. The optimized conditions are then employed in chain extension of PBA MI with MMA to prepare diblock and triblock copolymers.

    more » « less