The role of association/complexation equilibria in the anionic polymerization of (meth)acrylates



The kinetics of the anionic polymerization of methacrylates and acrylates in THF as well as the MWD of the polymers formed depend on the concentration of active centres and of additives, such as lithium halides and lithium alkoxides. These results are discussed on basis of multiple equilibria between non-associated, associated, and complexed ion pairs which are supported by viscosity measurements. The position of these equilibria determines the rate of polymerization, whereas the dynamics of interconversion determine the polydispersity. In the absence of additives the rate of monomer addition to non-associated ion pairs competes with the rate of association. Addition of lithium chloride mainly affects the rate of interconversion between dormant and active species, whereas lithium tert-butoxide forms adducts which stabilize the active centre.