Selective initiation from unprotected aminoalcohols for the N-heterocyclic carbene-organocatalyzed ring-opening polymerization of 2-methyl-N-tosyl aziridine: telechelic and block copolymer synthesis

Camille Bakkali-Hassani, Clément Coutouly, Tassilo Gleede, Joan Vignolle, Frederik R. Wurm, Stéphane Carlotti, Daniel Taton

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Commercial aminoalcohols, namely, 2-(methyl amino)ethanol (1) and diethanolamine (2), are investigated as direct initiators, i.e., with no need of protection of the hydroxyl groups, for the N-heterocyclic carbene-organocatalyzed ring-opening polymerization (NHC-OROP) of 2-methyl-N-p-toluenesulfonyl aziridine. NHC-OROP's are performed at 50 °C in tetrahydrofuran, in the presence of 1,3-bis(isopropyl)-4,5(dimethyl)imidazol-2-ylidene (Me5-IPr) as organocatalyst. Thus, nonprotected and nonactivated aminoalcohol initiators 1 and 2 provide a direct access to metal-free α-hydroxy-ω-amino- and α,α′-bis-hydroxy-ω-amino telechelics on the basis of polyaziridine (PAz), respectively. Excellent control over molar masses, narrow dispersities (Crossed D sign ≤ 1.20), and high chain-end fidelity are evidenced by combined analyses, including NMR spectroscopy, size exclusion chromatography, and MALDI ToF mass spectrometry. The amino-initiated NHC-OROP is therefore tolerant to the presence of nonprotected hydroxyl group(s). The as-obtained hydroxyl-ended PAz can be further derivatized in reaction with phenyl isocyanate, highlighting the accessibility of the hydroxyl groups in α-position. Moreover, block copolymer synthesis can be readily achieved by sequential NHC-OROP of 2-methyl-N-p-toluenesulfonyl aziridine and l-lactide, from 1 used in this case as a double-headed initiator. Remarkably, each of the two NHC-OROP steps proves highly chemoselective, with PAz and poly(l-lactide) (PLLA) segments being grown from the secondary amino- and the primary hydroxy- function, respectively. In this way, a well-defined PAz-b-PLLA diblock copolymer is synthesized in the presence of the same Me5-IPr organocatalyst, i.e., following a completely metal-free strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2533-2541
Number of pages9
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

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