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Open-to-Air RAFT Polymerization in Complex Solvents: From Whisky to Fermentation Broth

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journal contribution
posted on 15.03.2018 by Deborah K. Schneiderman, Jeffrey M. Ting, Anatolii A. Purchel, Ron Miranda, Matthew V. Tirrell, Theresa M. Reineke, Stuart J. Rowan
We investigate the use of in situ enzyme degassing to facilitate the open-to-air reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization of hydroxyethyl acrylate (HEA) in a wide range of complex aqueous solvents, including, beer, wine, liquor, and fermentation broth. This enzyme-assisted polymerization procedure is impressively robust, and poly­(HEA) was attained with good control over molecular weight and a narrow dispersity in nearly all of the solvents tested. Kinetics experiments on HEA polymerization in whisky and spectroscopic analysis of the purified polymers suggest high end-group fidelity, as does the successful chain extension of a poly­(HEA) macro chain transfer agent with narrow dispersity. These results suggest enzyme-assisted RAFT may be a powerful and underutilized tool for high-throughput screening and materials discovery and may simplify the synthesis of well-defined polymers in complex conditions.