Visible Light-Driven MADIX Polymerisation via a Reusable, Low-Cost and Non-Toxic Bismuth Oxide Photocatalyst

23 April 2019

The continuous amalgamation of photocatalysis into existing reversible deactivation radical polymerisation processes has initiated a rapidly propagating area of polymer research in recent years. We introduce bismuth oxide (Bi2O3) as a heterogeneous photocatalyst for polymerisations, operating at room temperature with visible light. We demonstrate formidable control over degenerative chain-transfer polymerisations, such as macromolecular design by interchange of xanthate (MADIX) and reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerisation. We achieved narrow molecular weight distributions and attribute the excellent temporal control to a photo-induced electron transfer (PET) process. This methodology was employed to synthesise diblock copolymers combining differently activated monomers. The Bi2O3 catalyst system has the additional benefits of low toxicity, reusability, low-cost, and ease of removal from the reaction mixture.