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Polymers 2016, 8(10), 371; doi:10.3390/polym8100371

New Vistas on the Anionic Polymerization of Styrene in Non-Polar Solvents by Means of Density Functional Theory

1
Honorary consultant for Synthetic Rubber Division, Asahi Kasei Corp., Torigaoka 50-5, Totsuka-ku, Yokohama 244-0001, Japan
2
Professor Emeritus, Laboratory of Macromolecular and Physical Organic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Catholic University of Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200F, Heverlee (Leuven) B-3001, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Alexander Böker
Received: 9 May 2016 / Revised: 20 September 2016 / Accepted: 22 September 2016 / Published: 20 October 2016

Abstract

The elementary processes of anionic styrene polymerization in the gas phase and in cyclohexane were studied using M062X (a recently developed density functional theory (DFT) method) combined with the 6-31+G(d) basis sets, in order to clarify the complicated phenomena caused by the association of the active chain-ends and elucidate the details of the polymerization mechanism. Three types of HSt2Li (a model structure of polystyryllithium chain-ends) were obtained; the well-known first structure in which Li is coordinated to the side chain, the second structure in which Li is coordinated to the phenyl ring, (both without the penultimate unit coordination), and the third structure in which Li is coordinated to both the chain-end unit and the penultimate styrene unit. Although the third HSt2Li is the most stable as expected, the free energy for the transition state of its reaction with styrene is higher than those for the other two transition states due to its steric hindrance. The free energy for the transition state of the reaction of the second HSt2Li with styrene is the lowest, suggesting that the route through it is the predominant reaction path. The penultimate unit effect, slower addition of styrene to HSt2Li than to HStLi, is attributed to coordination of the penultimate styrene units of the polystyryllithium dimer (one of the starting materials) to its Li atoms. The calculated enthalpy for the reaction barrier of the second HSt2Li with styrene in cyclohexane was found to agree with the observed apparent activation energy in benzene. View Full-Text
Keywords: anionic polymerization; DFT calculation; M062X; non-polar solvent; penultimate unit effect; polymerization mechanism; steric hindrance; styrene; transition state anionic polymerization; DFT calculation; M062X; non-polar solvent; penultimate unit effect; polymerization mechanism; steric hindrance; styrene; transition state
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Morita, H.; Van Beylen, M. New Vistas on the Anionic Polymerization of Styrene in Non-Polar Solvents by Means of Density Functional Theory. Polymers 2016, 8, 371.

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