Probing the effects of π–π stacking on the controlled radical polymerization of styrene and fluorinated styrene



The addition of the π–π stacking agent octafluorotoluene (OFT) resulted in up to a 50% reduction in monomer conversion after 24 h for atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) reactions of styrene, when performed at 85 °C with 1 eq of OFT compared with styrene in the initial reaction mixture. Monitoring the progress showed that the ATRP of styrene in the presence of either OFT or hexafluorobenzene (HFB) maintained a linear relationship between monomer conversion and number average molecular weights, while showing a first order rate dependence on monomer. The effects of π–π stacking on the KATRP could be overcome by using adjusting the redox activity of the metal-ligand complex while maintaining reaction temperatures of 85 °C. Further experiments showed that nitroxide-mediated polymerizations of St were affected to an identical extent by the presence of the π–π stacking agent HFB. The ATRP of pentafluorostyrene (PFSt) in the presence of π–π stackers benzene or toluene showed an increase in monomer conversion compared with reactions in their absence, consistent with Mn π–π stacking increasing the stability of the active radical. Interactions between the π–π stacking agents OFT and HFB and the aromatic groups in the ATRP of St or PFSt were verified by 1H NMR analysis. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem, 2012