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Precision synthesis of acrylate multiblock copolymers from consecutive microreactor RAFT polymerizations

Authors

  • Joke Vandenbergh,

    1. Polymer Reaction Design Group, Institute for Materials Research (IMO), Universiteit Hasselt, Diepenbeek, Belgium
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  • Thales de Moraes Ogawa,

    1. Polymer Reaction Design Group, Institute for Materials Research (IMO), Universiteit Hasselt, Diepenbeek, Belgium
    2. Escola Polytécnica da Universidade de São Paulo, Associação de Engenharia Química, Avenida Professor Luciano Gualberto, Butantã - São Paulo, Brazil
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  • Thomas Junkers

    Corresponding author
    • Polymer Reaction Design Group, Institute for Materials Research (IMO), Universiteit Hasselt, Diepenbeek, Belgium
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Correspondence to: T. Junkers (E-mail: thomas.junkers@uhasselt.be)

Abstract

Well-defined acrylate RAFT polymers and multiblock-copolymers have been synthesized via the use of a continuous-flow microreactor, in which polymerizations could be executed in 5−20 min reaction time. First, Poly(n-butyl acrylate) (PnBuA) was synthesized in the micro-flowreactor by using two different trithiocarbonate RAFT agents. Reaction time and reaction temperature were optimized and collected samples were directly studied with NMR, SEC and ESI-MS to determine conversion, molar mass and end group fidelity. Using the continuous flow technique, highly reproducible and fast polymerizations yielded quantitatively functionalized PnBuA in a very facile and efficient manner. One batch of RAFT acrylate polymer with a molar mass of 1100 g mol−1 and excellent end group fidelity was employed as a macro-RAFT agent for the subsequent copolymerization with different acrylate monomers (2-ethylhexyl acrylate, t-butyl acrylate, n-butyl acrylate). Using this procedure, a sequential multiblock-copolymer (Mn = 31,200 g mol−1, PDI = 1.46) consisting of five consecutive acrylate blocks was synthesized. This study clearly demonstrates the potential of using a continuous-flow microreactor for subsequent RAFT polymerizations towards well-defined multiblock-copolymers. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem, 2013, 51, 2366–2374

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