Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

Copolymerization of cyclohexene oxide with CO2 by using intramolecular dinuclear zinc catalysts.

PMID 15827981


The intramolecular dinuclear zinc complexes generated in situ from the reaction of multidentate semi-azacrown ether ligands with Et(2)Zn, followed by treatment with an alcohol additive, were found to promote the copolymerization of CO(2) and cyclohexene oxide (CHO) with completely alternating polycarbonate selectivity and high efficiency. With this type of novel initiator, the copolymerization could be accomplished under mild conditions at 1 atm pressure of CO(2), which represents a significant advantage over most catalytic systems developed for this reaction so far. The copolymerization reaction was demonstrated to be a living process as a result of the narrow polydispersities and the linear increase in the molecular weight with conversion of CHO. In addition, the solid-state structure of the dinuclear zinc complex was characterized by X-ray crystal structural analysis and can be considered as a model of the active catalyst. On the basis of the various efforts made to understand the mechanisms of the catalytic reaction, including MALDI-TOF mass analysis of the copolymers' end-groups, the effect of alcohol additives on the catalysis and CO(2) pressure on the conversion of CHO, as well as the kinetic data gained from in situ IR spectroscopy, a plausible catalytic cycle for the present reaction system is outlined. The copolymerization is initiated by the insertion of CO(2) into the Zn--OEt bond to afford a carbonate-ester-bridged complex. The dinuclear zinc structure of the catalyst remains intact throughout the copolymerization. The bridged zinc centers may have a synergistic effect on the copolymerization reaction; one zinc center could activate the epoxide through its coordination and the second zinc atom may be responsible for carbonate propagation by nucleophilic attack by the carbonate ester on the back side of the cis-epoxide ring to afford the carbonate. The mechanistic implication of this is particularly important for future research into the design of efficient and practical catalysts for the copolymerization of epoxides with CO(2.).

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Cyclohexene oxide, 98%