New publication (VIP) in ACIE online
In the past 100 years the variety of plastics has brought countless innovations. A treasure yet to be fully understood lies in the copolymerization of different monomers to copolymers with adjustable properties. Typically, only monomers containing the same functionality enabling the polymerization via the same mechanism are combined. However, not all desired properties can be accessed by a single monomer class. For monomers with different functionalities, work-intensive multiple step procedures with distinct catalysts are often necessary.
In this publication we show that the copolymerization of lactide via a ring-opening polymerization (ROP) and styrene via an atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) can be performed in a one-pot synthesis. The presented iron guanidine catalyst is highly active for lactide and establishes the ATRP equilibrium promoting the controlled polymerization of styrene. The catalyst is not only active for both mechanisms but performs them simultaneously leading to block copolymers if a suited bifunctional initiator is used. Mechanistic investigations suggest that the ROP of lactide is promoted by the iron(II) species on the dormant side of the ATRP equilibrium which proceeds without interfering with the controlled radical polymerization of styrene at the active side. The way both mechanisms work hand-in-hand shows the great possibilities yet to be discovered simplifying copolymerization procedures leading to materials with tailor-made properties.
The article Active in Sleep: Iron Guanidine Catalyst Performs ROP on Dormant Side of ATRP is available on the webpage of the publisher.