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Rapid and Efficient Anionic Synthesis of Well-Defined Eight-Arm Star Polymers Using OctavinylPOSS and Poly(styryl)lithium

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journal contribution
posted on 13.11.2012, 00:00 authored by Wen-Bin Zhang, Jinlin He, Kan Yue, Chang Liu, Peihong Ni, Roderic P. Quirk, Stephen Z. D. Cheng
A new approach has been developed for the preparation of well-defined, eight-arm star polymers via the addition of poly­(styryl)lithium to octavinylPOSS in benzene. The reaction proceeds rapidly to completion (within 5 min for molecular weight of each arm up to 33 kg/mol), forming predominantly eight-arm star polymers. The products were purified by fractionation and fully characterized by 1H NMR, 13C NMR, 29Si NMR, FT-IR, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, and size exclusion chromatography. Compared to conventional coupling approaches, this process is found to be less sensitive to the stoichiometry of the reactants and the molecular weight of each arm. A mechanism based on cross-association and intra-aggregate addition is invoked to account for this unusual observation. As evidence, when a polar solvent, tetrahydrofuran, or a strongly coordinating and disassociating Lewis base, tetramethylethylenediamine, was used to dissociate the living polymer chains, star polymers with lower average arm numbers than those of the products synthesized in pure benzene were formed at the same stoichiometry of the reactants. The method has general implications in the understanding of the reactive nature of the living anionic polymerization and may find practical application in the synthesis of functional star polymers of diverse compositions and architectures.