Synthesis of monocyclic and linear polystyrene using the reversible coupling/cleavage of thiol/disulfide groups

Michael R. Whittaker, Yong Keng Goh, Hesna Gemici, Thomas M. Legge, Sebastien Perrier, Michael J. Monteiro

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By carefully controlling the concentration of α,ω-thiol polystyrene in solution, we achieved formation of unique monocyclic polystyrene chains (i.e., polymer chains with only one disulfide linkage). The presence of cyclic polystyrene was confirmed by its lower than expected molecular weight due to a lower hydrodynamic volume and loss of thiol groups as detected by using Ellman's reagent. The α,ω-thiol polystyrene was synthesized by polymerizing styrene in the presence of a difunctional RAFT agent and subsequent conversion of the dithioester end groups to thiols via the addition of hexylamine. Oxidation gave either monocyclic polymer chains (i.e., with only one disulfide linkage) or linear multiblock polymers with many disulfide linkages depending on the concentration of polymer used with greater chance of cyclization in more dilute solutions. At high polymer concentrations, linear multiblock polymers were formed. To control the MWD of these linear multiblocks, monofunctional X-PSTY (X = PhCH2C(=S)-S-) was added. It was found that the greatest ratio of X-PSTY to X-PSTY-X resulted in a low Mn and PDI. We have shown that we can control both the structure and MWD using this chemistry, but more importantly such disulfide linkages can be readily reduced back to the starting polystyrene with thiol end groups, which has potential use for a recyclable polymer material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9028-9034
Number of pages7
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

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