Metal-Free Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization

Treat, N. J.; Sprafke, H.; Kramer, J. W.; Clark, P. G.; Barton, B. E.; Read de Alaniz, J.; Fors, B. P.; Hawker, C. J.
J. Am. Chem. Soc.
136 (45), pp 16096–16101

Overcoming the challenge of metal contamination in traditional ATRP systems, a metal-free ATRP process, mediated by light and catalyzed by an organic-based photoredox catalyst, is reported. Polymerization of vinyl monomers are efficiently activated and deactivated with light leading to excellent control over the molecular weight, polydispersity, and chain ends of the resulting polymers. Significantly, block copolymer formation was facile and could be combined with other controlled radical processes leading to structural and synthetic versatility. We believe that these new organic-based photoredox catalysts will enable new applications for controlled radical polymerizations and also be of further value in both small molecule and polymer chemistry.