Novel synthesis of block copolymers via the RAFT process

Bowes, Angela (2007-12)

Thesis (MSc (Chemistry and Polymer Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


The synthesis of complex architectures, namely block copolymers with tailored enduse properties, is currently an important research area in academia and industry. The challenge is finding a versatile polymerization technique capable of controlling the molecular properties of the formed copolymers, which in turn determines their macroscopic properties. Reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT)- mediated living polymerization is a robust technique capable of producing controlled polymer products. With the great advances in living polymerization techniques and the environmental awareness of society there is an increasing demand to produce these polymer products via the RAFT living technique in heterogeneous media. Conventional emulsion and miniemulsion polymerization present various problems when used to produce polymers mediated by the RAFT process. There is an inherent need to find cost effective and flexible operating conditions to conduct RAFT polymerization in heterogeneous media with the ability to produce well-defined block copolymers. In this study the use of three novel trithiocarbonate RAFT agents to produce welldefined AB-type, ABA-type and star block copolymers via the RAFT process was investigated. Optimal operating conditions for the production of living block copolymers in homogenous and heterogeneous media were determined. The main focus was on the development of the RAFT process in heterogeneous media to efficiently produce block copolymer latex products. The RAFT-mediated miniemulsion polymerization system stabilized with non-ionic surfactants was thoroughly investigated. The ability of the ab initio and in situ RAFT-mediated emulsion polymerization systems to produce controlled latexes was demonstrated. Controlled block copolymer products were successfully synthesized in homogenous and heterogeneous media via the RAFT process when the optimum reaction conditions were chosen.

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