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  1. Abstract

    This work develops the Polyolefin Active‐Ester Exchange (PACE) process to afford well‐defined polyolefin–polyvinyl block copolymers. α‐Diimine PdII‐catalyzed olefin polymerizations were investigated through in‐depth kinetic studies in comparison to an analog to establish the critical design that facilitates catalyst activation. Simple transformations lead to a diversity of functional groups forming polyolefin macroinitiators or macro‐mediators for various subsequent controlled polymerization techniques. Preparation of block copolymers with different architectures, molecular weights, and compositions was demonstrated with ring‐opening polymerization (ROP), nitroxide‐mediated polymerization (NMP), and photoiniferter reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (PI‐RAFT). The significant difference in the properties of polyolefin–polyacrylamide block copolymers was harnessed to carry out polymerization‐induced self‐assembly (PISA) and study the nanostructure behaviors.

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  2. Abstract

    Practical synthesis of polyolefin–polyvinyl block copolymers remains a challenge for transition‐metal catalyzed polymerizations. Common approaches functionalize polyolefins for post‐radical polymerization via insertion methods, yet sacrifice the livingness of the olefin polymerization. This work identifies an orthogonal radical/spin coupling technique which affords tandem living insertion and controlled radical polymerization. The broad tolerance of this coupling technique has been demonstrated for diverse radical/spin traps such as 2,2,5‐trimethyl‐4‐phenyl‐3‐azahexane‐3‐nitroxide (TIPNO), 1‐oxyl‐(2,2,6,6‐tetramethylpiperidine) ‐4‐yl‐α‐bromoisobutyrate (TEMPO‐Br), andN‐tert‐butyl‐α‐phenylnitrone (PBN). Subsequent controlled radical polymerization is demonstrated with nitroxide‐mediated polymerization (NMP) and atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), yielding polyolefin–polyvinyl di‐ and triblock copolymers (Đ<1.3) with acrylic, vinylic and styrenic segments. These findings highlight radical trapping as an approach to expand the scope of polyolefin‐functionalization techniques to access polyolefin macroinitiators.

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  3. This work probed the thermal “switchability” from ethylene coordination/insertion to controlled radical polymerization of methyl acrylate (MA) for Brookhart-type α-diimine PdII catalysts. The investigation focused on the extremely bulky 2,6-bis(3,5-dimethylphenyl)-4-methylphenyl (Xyl4Ph) α-diimine N-substituents to probe reversible PdII–C bond activation in the MA-quenched Pd-capped PE intermediate and reversible trapping during radical MA polymerization. The substituent steric effect on the relative stability of various [PE–MA–PdII(ArN═CMeCMe═NAr)]+ chain-end structures and on the bond dissociation-free energy (BDFE) for the homolytic PdII–C bond cleavage has been assessed by DFT calculations at the full quantum mechanics (QM) and QM/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methods. The structures comprise ester-chelated forms with the Pd atom bonded to the α, β, and γ C atoms as a result of 2,1 MA insertion into the PE–Pd bond and of subsequent chain walking, as well as related monodentate (ring-opened) forms resulting from the addition of MA or acetonitrile. The opened Cα-bonded form is electronically favored for smaller N-substituents, including 2,6-diisopropylphenyl (Dipp), particularly when MeCN is added, but the open Cγ-bonded form is preferred for the extremely bulky system with Ar = Xyl4Ph. The Pdα–C bond is the weakest one to cleave, with the BDFE decreasing as the Ar steric bulk is increased (31.8, 25.8, and 12.6 kcal mol–1 for Ph, Dipp, and Xyl4Ph, respectively). However, experimental investigations on the [PE–MA–PdII(ArN═CMeCMe═NAr)]+ (Ar = Xyl4Ph) macroinitiator do not show any evidence of radical formation under thermal activation conditions, while photolytic activation produces both TEMPO-trapped (TEMPO = 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidinyloxy) and unsaturated MA-containing PE chains. The DFT investigation has highlighted a low-energy pathway for termination of the PE–MA• radicals by disproportionation, promoted by β-H elimination/dissociation and H-atom abstraction from the PdII–H intermediate by a second radical. This phenomenon appears to be the main reason for the failure of this PdII system to control the radical polymerization of MA by the OMRP (OMRP = organometallic-mediated radical polymerization) mechanism. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 10, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 3, 2024