Kinetic analysis of reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerizations: Conditions for inhibition, retardation, and optimum living polymerization

Philipp Vana, Thomas P. Davis, Christopher Barner-Kowollik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

246 Citations (Scopus)


Careful simulations of conversion vs. time plots and full molecular weight distributions have been performed using the PREDICI® program package in conjunction with the kinetic scheme suggested by the CSIRO group for the reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) process to probe RAFT agent mediated polymerizations. In particular, conditions leading to inhibition and rate retardation have been examined to act as a guide to optimum living polymerization behavior. It is demonstrated that an inhibition period of considerable length is induced by either slow fragmentation of the intermediate RAFT radicals appearing in the pre-equilibrium or by slow re-initiation of the leaving group radical of the initial RAFT agent. The absolute values of the rate coefficients governing the core equilibrium of the RAFT process - at a fixed value of the equilibrium constant - are confirmed to be crucial in controlling the polydispersity of the resulting molecular weight distributions: A higher interchange frequency effects narrower distributions. It is further demonstrated that the size of the rate coefficient controlling the addition reaction of propagating radicals to polyRAFT agent, κβ, is mainly responsible for optimizing the control of the polymerization. The fragmentation rate coefficient, κ, of the macroRAFT intermediate radical, on the other hand, may be varied over orders of magnitude without affecting the amount of control exerted over the polymerization. On the basis of the basic RAFT mechanism, its value mainly governs the extent of rate retardation in RAFT polymerizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-835
Number of pages13
JournalMacromolecular Theory and Simulations
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Kinetics
  • Living polymerization
  • Reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT)
  • Simulations

Cite this