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Chain-Walking Polymerization of α‑Olefins by α‑Diimine Ni(II) Complexes: Effect of Reducing the Steric Hindrance of Ortho- and Para-Aryl Substituents on the Catalytic Behavior, Monomer Enchainment, and Polymer Properties

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journal contribution
posted on 25.01.2018, 18:21 authored by Ivana Pierro, Giorgia Zanchin, Emilio Parisini, Javier Martí-Rujas, Maurizio Canetti, Giovanni Ricci, Fabio Bertini, Giuseppe Leone
With Brookhart type α-diimine Ni­(II) based catalysts, it is highly challenging to tune polymers branching level and branch-type distribution, which in turn strongly affects thermal and mechanical properties, through the aryl ortho-positions modification, while maintaining high turnover frequencies (TOFs). Herein, we are interested in performing a systematic investigation on the polymerization of 1-octene, 1-decene, and 1-octadecene catalyzed by a series of α-diimine nickel­(II) complexes with methyl ligand backbone and different substituents in aryl positions (Ni1Ni6). In addition to bulky isopropyl and tert-butyl substituents described in the original Brookhart’s work, complexes with different aryl ortho- and para-substituted α-diimine ligands, including the less sterically demanding methyl and ethyl substituents, are investigated. The 13C NMR spectra of the polymers have been assigned in detail, and some unique features have been identified and related to the chain-walking coordination/insertion mechanism. Changes in the ligand structure and monomer size have important effects on the numerous combinations of insertion and chain-walking paths from which different branches are installed. We have also carried out a comprehensive investigation of the mechanical behavior of the polymers by means of uniaxial stretching until failure, step-cycle, and creep tensile tests. Overall, the resulting polymers exhibited a broad spectrum of tensile properties, depending on their microstructure and crystallinity which in turn are strongly affected by monomer length and type of α-diimine ligand. 1-Octene and 1-decene polymers behave as elastomers with excellent mechanical properties, i.e., high elongation at break (up to 2000%) and good strain recovery, while 1-octadecene polymers behave as plastomers.