In a conventional living ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP), an equal number of ruthenium complexes to the number of polymer chains synthesized are required. This can lead to high loadings of ruthenium complexes when aiming for shorter polymers. Here, a reversible chain-transfer agent was used to produce living ROMP polymers from norbornene derivatives using catalytic amounts of Grubbs’ ruthenium complexes. The polymers obtained by this method showed all of the characteristics of a living polymerization (that is, good molecular weight control, narrow molecular weight dispersities and the ability to form block copolymers). Monomers carrying functional moieties such as ferrocene, coumarin or a triisopropylsilyl-protected primary alcohol could also be catalytically polymerized in a living fashion. The method presented follows a degenerative chain-transfer process and is more economical and environmentally friendly compared with previous living ROMP procedures as it utilizes only catalytic amounts of costly and toxic ruthenium complexes.
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A.F.M.K., M.Y. and P.L. thank the Swiss National Science Foundation for funding. I.K.T. thanks the National of Competence in Research ‘Bio-inspired Nanomaterials’ for a postdoctoral fellowship.
Comprehensive information on compound synthesis and characterization, 1H and 13C-NMR spectra, size exclusion chromatography traces and MALDI-ToF mass spectrometric data.
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