The Effects of Pi-Pi Stacking on the Controlled Radical Polymerization of Vinyl Aromatics

Date of Thesis



The atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) of styrene (St) was conducted in the presence of varying equivalence (eq) of hexafluorobenzene (HFB) and octafluorotoluene (OFT) to probe the effects of pi-pi stacking on the rate of the polymerization and on the tacticity of the resulting polystyrene (PSt). The extent of the pi-pi stacking interaction between HFB/OFT and the terminal polystyrenic phenyl group was also investigated as a function of solvent, both non-aromatic solvents (THF and hexanes) and aromatic solvents (benzene and toluene). In all cases the presence of HFB or OFT resulted in a decrease in monomer conversion indicating a reduction in the rate of the polymerization with greater retardation of the rate with increase eq of HFB or OFT (0.5 eq to 1 eq HFB/OFT compared to St). Additionally, when aromatic solvents were used instead of non-aromatic solvents the effect of the HFB/OFT on the rate was minimized, consistent with the aromatic solvent competitively interacting with the HFB/OFT. The effects of temperature and ligand strength on the ATRP of St in the presence of HFB were also probed. It was found that when using N,N,N’,N’,N’’-pentamethyldiethylenetriamine (PMDETA) as the ligand the effects of HFB at 38o were the same as at 86oC. When tris[2-(dimethylamino)ethyl]-amine (Me6TREN) was used as the ligand at 38o there was a decrease in monomer conversion similar to the analogous PMDETA reaction. When the polymerization was conducted at 86oC there was no effect on the monomer conversion with HFB present compared to when HFB was absent. To investigate the pi-pi stacking effect even further, the reverse pi-pi stacking system was observed by conducting the ATRP of pentafluorostyrene (PFSt) in the presence of varying eq of benzene and toluene, which in both cases resulted in an increase in monomer conversion compared to when benzene or toluene were absent; in summary the rate of the ATRP of PFSt increases when benzene or toluene waas present in the reaction. The pi-pi stacking interaction between the HFB/OFT and the dormant alkyl bromide of the polymer chain was verified by 1H-NMR with 1-bromoethylbenzene as the alkyl bromide. Also verified by 1H-NMR was the interaction between HFB/OFT and St and the interaction between PFSt and benzene. In all 1H-NMR spectra a perturbation in the aromatic and/or vinyl peaks was observed when the pi-pi stacking agent was present compared to when it was absent. The tacticity of the PSt formed in the presence of 1 eq of HFB was compared to the PSt formed in the absence of HFB by observing the C1 signal in their 13C-NMR spectra, but no change in shape or chemical shift of the signal was observed indicating that there was no change in tacticity.


Polymer Chemistry, Pi-pi Stacking, vinyl aromatic monomers

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science



First Advisor

Eric Tillman

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