A New Polymerization Method for Polymethylene
Background: The most common method for manufacturing polyolefins and their derivatives is by polymerization of olefin monomers with Ziegler-Natta catalysts or by the use of free radical, nucleophilic, or electrophilic initiators. Although one can achieve high molecular weights with these methods, the resulting products are often polydisperse. Many types of polymers are very difficult, if not impossible to manufacture by olefin polymerization. Technology: Researchers at the University of California have developed a new synthetic method for the manufacture of polymers that offers several distinct advantages over existing methods. The UC method consists of a unique polymerization reaction that:
- Permits a high degree of monodispersity, - Enables the preparation of block copolymers, - Allows a broad variety of functional groups to be added to the chain termini, and - Can be used to synthesize highly functionalized compounds such as polystilbene or polytrimethylsilylmethane.
Synthetic routes using the UC method have already been devised for several polymers such as a 250-mer polymethylene (with various terminal groups). It has been found that the UC method results in the exclusive formation of linear polymer chains of a predetermined molecular weight. Given the advantages of the UC synthesis, it is expected to be the polymerization method of choice for use in manufacturing polymethylene, its derivatives, and related compounds. Application: Materials with novel mechanical and physical properties.
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