Investigation of Kinetics of Nitroxide Mediated Radical Polymerization of Styrene with a Unimolecular Initiator
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This thesis presents the results of a study on the kinetics of nitroxide-mediated radical polymerization of styrene with a unimolecular initiator. The primary objective was to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of how a unimolecular-initiating system controls the polymerization process and to clarify the effects of various reaction parameters. Previous work in this field has met with some difficulties in the initiator synthesis, such as low yield and inconsistency of molecular weight. These problems were overcome by adjusting reaction conditions and procedures. Better yields of initiator with consistent molecular weight were produced by the improved methods. Control of polymerization rate and polymer molecular weight in unimolecular nitroxide-mediated radical polymerization was studied by looking at the effects of the three main factors: initiator concentration, temperature, and the initiator molecular weight on polymerization rate, molecular weight and polydispersity. Results indicated that increasing the initiator concentration had no effect on polymerization rate at low conversion, but led to lower polymerization rate at high conversion; higher initiator concentration led to lower molecular weight of the resulting polymer. It was also found that temperature significantly increased the polymerization rate, yet had no effect on number-average molecular weight, Mn, at low conversion, while it caused a plateau at high conversion levels; there was no effect on weight-average molecular weight, Mw, through the whole conversion range. In addition, increasing initiator molecular weight was found to have no effect on either polymerization rate or molecular weight. The experimental molecular weights of the unimolecular system were compared to theoretical molecular weights based on ideal controlled radical polymerization (CRP). The results were found to be close to the theoretical values. This confirmed the advantages of the unimolecular system, namely, the degree of control over molecular weight was nearly ideal (for certain conditions); and molecular weights could thus be predicted by simply following general rules relating to CRP mechanisms.