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There was a polymer chemistry paper published last month in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) that brings two separate ideas together to produce some novel polymers.
- Ring opening polymerizations proceed best when the ring is small in size and has some strain built in to help the reaction along. Epoxies, being a three-member ring are a great example of this, capable of reacting at room temperature or below. (Many epoxies are shipped on dry ice). But smaller rings offer only a small choice in what will end up in the back bone. Larger rings offer more options, but greatly reduced reactivity.
- A recently developed ring-opening methathesis polymerization (ROMP) is called relay polymerization and is illustrated here:
The authors combine both of these concepts to produce polymerizations such as this:
"For the first time, polymers with arbitrary functionality (ester, amide, sulfonamide, aliphatic, aromatic, heterocyclic, etc.) within the backbone can be produced while still providing control over molecular weight and molecular weight distribution."Having esters in the backbone means that this material could be hydrolytically degraded. While such degradation is most often undesirable, at other times, it can be a blessing. Regardless, just having it as an option is helpful.
And this polymerization is extra sweet as the trigger is built using saccharin as a starting material. All in all, very clever.
I need to mention that the article is open access. Anyone can read it for free. But if you try and read a review of it at Nature Chemistry, you have to pay. So, one last question:
If you could read a research article for free or pay for a review of it, which would you choose?(Shameless self-promotion: my article reviews have always been and always will be free.)