Paper of the week: Cu(0)-mediated polymerization using high-throughput experimentation

‘Over the past decades, several types of controlled radical polymerization methods have been developed. The most popular methods are atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization and nitroxide mediated polymerization (NMP). One of the more recently developed techniques, which appears to be very promising, is Cu(0)-mediated polymerization, known variously as SET-LRP or SARA-ATRP. Recent publications have shown significant progress in the area of Cu(0)-mediated polymerization. Among the monomers that have been polymerized in a controlled manner via Cu(0)-mediated polymerization are acrylates, methacrylates, vinyl chloride and (meth)acrylamides. However, for each monomer the polymerization conditions should be optimized, which is in general a very time consuming task.’

Graphical abstract: Cu(0)-mediated polymerization of hydrophobic acrylates using high-throughput experimentation

In this work, Hoogenboom and co-workers report the optimization of the Cu(0)-mediated polymerization of n-butyl acrylate (BA) and 2-methoxyethyl acrylate (MEA) via Cu(0)-mediated polymerization using an automated parallel synthesizer.  Using this robot, up to 16 kinetic reactions could be performed in parallel, resulting in a fast screening of different reaction conditions. Several parameters were optimized to determine the optimal reaction conditions with regard to control over the polymerization and reaction rate. These optimal reaction conditions were then used for the one-pot two-step synthesis of diblock copolymers by sequential monomer addition. Altogether, this work shows the power of high-throughput optimization of Cu(0)-mediated polymerization reaction conditions. As such, it may serve to accelerate optimization of Cu(0)-mediated polymerization conditions and aid in gaining fundamental understanding of the effects of various parameters on the Cu(0)-mediated polymerization.

Cu(0)-mediated polymerization of hydrophobic acrylates using high-throughput experimentation by Lenny Voorhaar, Sofie Wallyn, Filip E. Du Prez and Richard Hoogenboom, Polym. Chem. 2014, 5, 4268-4276.

Julien Nicolas is a web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He currently works at Univ. Paris-Sud (FR) as a CNRS researcher.

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