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Selective formation of diblock copolymers using radical trap-assisted atom transfer radical coupling

Authors


Correspondence to: E. S. Tillman (Email: etillman@bucknell.edu)

ABSTRACT

Polystyrene (PSt) radicals and poly(methyl acrylate) (PMA) radicals, derived from their monobrominated precursors prepared by atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), were formed in the presence of the radical trap 2-methyl-2-nitrosopropane (MNP), selectively forming PSt-PMA diblock copolymers with an alkoxyamine at the junction between the block segments. This radical trap-assisted, atom transfer radical coupling (RTA-ATRC) was performed in a single pot at low temperature (35 °C), while analogous traditional ATRC reactions at this temperature, which lacked the radical trap, resulted in no observed coupling and the PStBr and PMABr precursors were simply recovered. Selective formation of the diblock under RTA-ATRC conditions is consistent with the PStBr and PMABr having substantially different KATRP values, with PSt radicals initially being formed and trapped by the MNP and the PMA radicals being trapped by the in situ-formed nitroxide end-capped PSt. The midchain alkoxyamine functionality was confirmed by thermolysis of the diblock copolymer, resulting in recovery of the PSt segment and degradation of the PMA block at the relatively high temperatures (125 °C) required for thermal cleavage. A PSt-PMA diblock formed by chain extenstion ATRP using PStBr as the macroinitiator (thus lacking the alkoxyamine between the PSt-PMA segements) was inert to thermolysis. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part A: Polym. Chem. 2013, 51, 3619–3626

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