[en] The ability of several nitrones to control the radical polymerization of styrene at 110 °C has been investigated by high-throughput experimentation. The nitrone/free radical initiator pair dictates the structure of the nitroxide and the alkoxyamine formed in situ, which determines the position of the equilibrium between the active and the dormant species operating in the nitroxide-mediated polymerization. For the styrene polymerization to be controlled, the nitrone must be reacted with 2,2'-azo-bis-isobutyronitrile (AIBN) at 85 °C, prior to addition of styrene and polymerization at 110 °C. The effect of the nitrone structure on the kinetics of the styrene polymerization has been emphasized. Amongst all the nitrones tested, those of the C-phenyl-N-tert-butylnitrone (PBN) type are the most efficient in terms of polymerization rate, control of molecular weight and polydispersity. Electrophilic substitution of the phenyl group of PBN by either an electrodonor or an electroacceptor group has only a minor effect on the polymerization kinetics. Importantly, the polymerization rate is not governed by the thermal polymerization of styrene but by the alkoxyamine formed in situ during the pre-reaction step. The initiation efficiency is, however, very low, consistent with a limited conversion of the nitrone into nitroxide and alkoxyamine.
Center for Education and Research on Macromolecules (CERM)
Politique Scientifique Fédérale (Belgique) = Belgian Federal Science Policy ; Fonds pour la formation à la Recherche dans l'Industrie et dans l'Agriculture (Communauté française de Belgique) - FRIA ; Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS ; The Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI), Technology Area ‘High-throughput experimentation’