Synthesis of Mid-Chain Functionalized Polymers

Date of Thesis

Summer 2012


Polymers with mid-chain alkoxyamine functionality were synthesized by activating monohalogenated polymers in the presence of nitroso or nitrone radical traps. The resulting polymers were either polystyrene (PSt) homopolymers with a mid-chain alkoxyamine or PSt-poly(methyl acrylate) (PMA) diblock copolymers with an alkoxyamine unit at the junction between the segments. Monohalogenated polymers where synthesized by atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and were then reacted to form polymer radicals in the presence of a radical trap, nitrone or nitroso. When only polystyrene radicals were reacted with the radical trap a dimer was formed with an alkoxyamine functionality in the center of the polymer chain. This functionality allowed the polymer chain to be cleaved in order to visualize the extent of the alkoxyamine functionality incorporation into the polymer chains. It was found that near quantitative alkoxyamine mid-chain functionality could be achieved by activating the PStBr in the presence of 10 equivalents of nitrone, 5 equivalents of copper bromide, and 2 equivalents of copper metal. Further reducing the amount of copper metal led to incomplete coupling, while increasing the equivalents beyond 2 generated polymer dimers with less than quantitative mid-chain functionality. Monochlorinated polystyrene (PStCl) precursors gave much poorer coupling results compared to reactions with PStBr, which is consistent with the stronger C-Cl bond resisting activation and the formation of the polystyryl radicals. When poly (methyl acrylate) (PMABr) is reacted with PStBr in the presence of a nitroso group at reduced temperatures (30 oC) block copolymers were selectively formed with an alkoxyamine functionality in the center. This was done by first activating the PSt-Br to form a polymer radical that would react with the radical trap to form a persistent radical on the oxygen. The PMA-Br, once activated, reacted with the radical on the oxygen to form the block copolymer. To test the amount of functionality incorporated, a coupling reaction was performed with no nitroso present, and found that no reaction occurred. This showed that the radical trap is essential for the coupling to occur, and cleavage of the diblock indicated that the alkoxyamine functionality was indeed incorporated into the diblock.


Polymer, Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization, Atom Transfer Radical Coupling

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science



First Advisor

Eric S. Tillman

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