Hydroperoxide Traces in Common Cyclic Ethers as Initiators for Controlled RAFT Polymerizations


Herein, a reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization is introduced for reactive monomers like N-acryloylpyrrolidine or N,N-dimethylacrylamide working without a conventional radical initiator. As a very straightforward proof of principle, the method takes advantage of the usually inconvenient radical-generating hydroperoxide contaminations in cyclic ethers like tetrahydrofuran or 1,4-dioxane, which are very common solvents in polymer sciences. The polymerizations are surprisingly well controlled and the polymers can be extended with a second block, indicating their high livingness. “Solvent-initiated” RAFT polymerizations hence prove to be a feasible access to tailored materials with minimal experimental effort and standard laboratory equipment, only requiring the following ingredients: hydroperoxide-contaminated solvent, monomer, and RAFT agent. In other respects, however, the potential coinitiating ability of the used solvent is to be considered when investigating the kinetics of RAFT polymerizations or aiming for the synthesis of high-livingness polymers, e.g., multiblock copolymers.
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