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Keywords:

  • polystyrene;
  • oligomers;
  • radical polymerization

Abstract

The bulk polymerization of styrene in the presence of the vinyl functional sulfonic acid 2-sulfoethylmethacrylate (SEM) was found to have utility for making polystyrenes with narrow polydispersity, bimodal polydispersity, and ultrahigh molecular weight at fast polymerization rates. Narrow polydispersity polymers were made by the addition of SEM to nitroxide-mediated polymerizations. Bimodal polydispersity polymers were made by the ultrahigh molecular weight component being made in the presence of SEM in the absence of an initiator and the low molecular weight component being made in the presence of an initiator and/or chain-transfer agent. Ultrahigh molecular weight monomodal polystyrenes were prepared at much faster polymerization rates than possible via spontaneous polymerization in the absence of SEM. SEM was found to be more effective, by an order of magnitude, than camphor sulfonic acid on a weight basis and, because it is copolymerized into the polymer chain, should not lead to corrosion problems during fabrication of the polymer. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 87: 869–875, 2003