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  1. 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.

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  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.

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  3. Abstract

    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.

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  4. Abstract

    The photophysical process of localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) is, for the first time, exploited for broadband photon harvesting in photo‐regulated controlled/living radical polymerization. Efficient macromolecular synthesis was achieved under illumination with light wavelengths extending from the visible to the near‐infrared regions. Plasmonic Ag nanostructures were in situ generated on Ag3PO4photocatalysts in a reversible addition‐fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) system, thereby promoting polymerization of various monomers following a LSPR‐mediated electron transfer mechanism. Owing to the LSPR‐enhanced broadband photon harvesting, high monomer conversion (>99 %) was achieved under natural sunlight within 0.8 h. The deep penetration of NIR light enabled successful polymerization with reaction vessels screened by opaque barriers. Moreover, by trapping active oxygen species generated in the photocatalytic process, polymerization could be implemented without pre‐deoxygenation.

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  5. Abstract

    Good control of tacticity, molecular weight, and architecture is attained via atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) ofN‐hydroxyethyl acrylamide (HEAA), in a one‐pot process in the presence of Y(OTf)3. The effect of temperature, ratio of [Y(OTf)3]/[HEAA], and ATRP procedure on the tacticity and degree of control over the polymerization is investigated in detail. Under optimal conditions, using photo ATRP and 15% Y(OTf)3,the content of meso dyads (m) can be increased from 42% to 80% in a homopolymer with a dispersityD = 1.22. Well‐defined stereoblock copolymers, atactic‐b‐isotactic poly(HEAA), withD = 1.27, are obtained by adding Y(OTf)3at a specific conversion, initially started without Y(OTf)3.

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    Electrochemically mediated atom transfer radical polymerizations (ATRPs) provide well‐defined polymers with designed dispersity as well as under external temporal and spatial control. In this study, 1‐cyano‐1‐methylethyl diethyldithiocarbamate, typically used as chain‐transfer agent (CTA) in reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization, was electrochemically activated by the ATRP catalyst CuI/2,2′‐bipyridine (bpy) to control the polymerization of methyl methacrylate. Mechanistic study showed that this polymerization was mainly controlled by the ATRP equilibrium. The effect of applied potential, catalyst counterion, catalyst concentration, and targeted degree of polymerization were investigated. The chain‐end functionality was preserved as demonstrated by chain extension of poly(methyl methacrylate) withn‐butyl methacrylate and styrene. This electrochemical ATRP procedure confirms that RAFT CTAs can be activated by an electrochemical stimulus. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part A: Polym. Chem.2019,57, 376–381

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  7. Abstract

    A dual‐concurrent atom transfer radical polymerization/reversible addition‐fragmentation chain‐transfer (ATRP/RAFT) system is used to control a radical polymerization by electrochemical reduction of small amount of copper complexes in the presence of a chain transfer agent (CTA). Electrochemical ATRP conditions provide a continuous supply of radicals, while the CTA aids the control over molecular weight and dispersity of poly(n‐butyl acrylate), even in the presence of low ppm amounts of catalyst. The polymerization could be turned “on” and “off” by shifting electrolysis potential. With as low as 10 ppm of Cu catalyst, addition of only 2% CTA (with respect to the ATRP initiator) improves control by decreasing dispersity fromÐ= 1.41 toÐ= 1.25.

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  8. Abstract

    Stable latexes of poly(meth)acrylates with predetermined molecular weights, narrow molecular‐weight distributions, and controlled architecture were prepared by true ab initio emulsion atom‐transfer radical polymerization. Water‐soluble (macro)initiators in combination with a hydrophilic catalyst, Cu/tris(2‐pyridylmethyl)amine, initiated the polymerization in the aqueous phase. The catalyst strongly interacted with the surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), thereby tuning the polymerization within nucleated hydrophobic polymer particles. Long‐term stable latexes were obtained, even with SDS loading below 3 wt % relative to monomer. Block and gradient copolymers were prepared in situ. The reaction volume and solid content were successfully increased to 100 mL and 40 vol %, respectively, thus suggesting facile scale‐up of this technique. The proposed setup could be integrated in existing industrial plants used for emulsion polymerization.

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  9. Abstract

    Atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) can be carried out in a flask completely open to air using a biocatalytic system composed of glucose oxidase (GOx) and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) with an active copper catalyst complex. Nanomolar concentrations of the enzymes and ppm amounts of Cu provided excellent control over the polymerization of oligo(ethylene oxide) methyl ether methacrylate (OEOMA500), generating polymers with high molecular weight (Mn>70 000) and low dispersities (1.13≤Đ≤1.27) in less than an hour. The continuous oxygen supply was necessary for the generation of radicals and polymer chain growth as demonstrated by temporal control and by inducing hypoxic conditions. In addition, the enzymatic cascade polymerization triggered by oxygen was used for a protein and DNA functionalized with initiators to form protein‐b‐POEOMA and DNA‐b‐POEOMA bioconjugates, respectively.

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  10. Abstract

    A key challenge of photoregulated living radical polymerization is developing efficient and robust photocatalysts. Now carbon dots (CDs) have been exploited for the first time as metal‐free photocatalysts for visible‐light‐regulated reversible addition–fragmentation chain‐transfer (RAFT) polymerization. Screening of diverse heteroatom‐doped CDs suggested that the P‐ and S‐doped CDs were effective photocatalysts for RAFT polymerization under mild visible light following a photoinduced electron transfer (PET) involved oxidative quenching mechanism. PET‐RAFT polymerization of various monomers with temporal control, narrow dispersity (Đ≈1.04), and chain‐end fidelity was achieved. Besides, it was demonstrated that the CD‐catalyzed PET‐RAFT polymerization was effectively performed under natural solar irradiation.

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