A metal-free phosphonium bisborane Lewis pair (PBB-Br) was demonstrated to realize the immortal ring-opening polymerization (iROP) of propylene oxide (PO) under mild conditions with alcohols as chain transfer agents (CTAs). Narrow dispersed poly(propylene oxide) (PPO) with controllable molecular weights predicted from [PO]0/([PBB-Br]0+[CTAs]0) molar ratio were obtained in quantitative conversion. These indicated the iROP feature of PBB-Br-catalysed PO polymerization. The rapid, reversible and quantitative chain transfer assured the iROP characterisitc for intramolecular Lewis pair catalyst PBB-Br, so various well-defined heterofunctionalized PPOs were easily produced. All the α,ω-difunctionalized PPOs were carefully characterized. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations reveal the chain transfer to CTA process is almost barrierless (0.8 kcal. mol-1) and thermodynamically favorable as compared to chain propagation. Moreover, PPO-based block copolyethers were easily obtained in one-pot using epoxide mixtures. This research demonstrated that the delicately designed intramolecular synergistic Lewis pair offered a powerful and controllable method to prepare various heterofunctionalized PPO samples with high values.
Controllable Synthesis of Heterofunctionalized Polyethers via an Intramolecular Phosphonium Bisborane Lewis Pair Catalysed Immortal Ring Opening Polymerization
experimental parts and polymer characterizations were provided in ESI