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Frustrated Lewis Pair Polymers as Responsive Self-Healing Gels

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posted on 15.09.2017, 00:00 by Meng Wang, Fabio Nudelman, Rebecca R. Matthes, Michael P. Shaver
Steric bulk prevents the formation of strong bonds between Lewis acids and bases in frustrated Lewis pairs (FLPs), where latent reactivity makes these reagents transformative in small molecule activations and metal-free catalysis. However, their use as a platform for developing materials chemistry is unexplored. Here we report a fully macromolecular FLP, built from linear copolymers that containing either a sterically encumbered Lewis base or Lewis acid as a pendant functional group. The target functional copolymers were prepared by a controlled radical copolymerization of styrene with designer boron or phosphorus containing monomers. Mixtures of the B- and P-functionalized polystyrenes do not react, with the steric bulk of the functional monomers preventing the favorable Lewis acid base interaction. Addition of a small molecule (diethyl azodicarboxylate) promotes rapid network formation, cross-linking the reactive polymer chains. The resulting gel is dynamic, can self-heal, is heat responsive, and can be reshaped by postgelation processing.