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Synthesis of a Catechol-Based Poly(ether ether ketone) (“o-PEEK”) by Classical Step-Growth Polymerization and by Entropically Driven Ring-Opening Polymerization of Macrocyclic Oligomers

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posted on 19.09.2006, 00:00 by Abderrazak Ben-Haida, Howard M. Colquhoun, Philip Hodge, David J. Williams
An amorphous, catechol-based analogue of PEEK (“o-PEEK”) has been prepared by a classical step-growth polymerization reaction between catechol and 4,4‘-difluorobenzophenone and shown to be readily soluble in a range of organic solvents. Copolymers with p-PEEK have been investigated, including an amorphous 50:50 composition and a semicrystalline though still organic-soluble material comprising 70% p-PEEK. o-PEEK has also been obtained by entropy-driven ring-opening polymerization of the macrocyclic oligomers (MCO's) formed by cyclo-condensation of catechol with 4,4‘-difluorobenzophenone under pseudo-high-dilution conditions. The principal products of this latter reaction were the cyclic dimer 3a (20 wt %), cyclic trimer 3b (16%) cyclic tetramer 3c (14%), cyclic pentamer 3d (13%) and cyclic hexamer 3e (12%). Macrocycles 3ac were isolated as pure compounds by gradient column chromatography, and the structures of the cyclic dimer 3a and cyclic tetramer 3c were analyzed by single-crystal X-ray diffraction. A mixture of MCO's, 3, of similar composition, was obtained by cyclodepolymerization of high molar mass o-PEEK in dilute soluion.