Fluoride-promoted carbonylation polymerization: a facile step-growth technique to polycarbonates†
Fluoride-Promoted Carbonylation (FPC) polymerization is herein presented as a novel catalytic polymerization methodology that complements ROP and unlocks a greater synthetic window to advanced polycarbonates. The overall two-step strategy is facile, robust and capitalizes on the synthesis and step-growth polymerization of bis-carbonylimidazolide and diol monomers of 1,3- or higher configurations. Cesium fluoride (CsF) is identified as an efficient catalyst and the bis-carbonylimidazolide monomers are synthesized as bench-stable white solids, easily obtained on 50–100 g scales from their parent diols using cheap commercial 1,1′-carbonyldiimidazole (CDI) as activating reagent. The FPC polymerization works well in both solution and bulk, does not require any stoichiometric additives or complex settings and produces only imidazole as a relatively low-toxicity by-product. As a proof-of-concept using only four diol building-blocks, FPC methodology enabled the synthesis of a unique library of polycarbonates covering (i) rigid, flexible and reactive PC backbones, (ii) molecular weights 5–20 kg mol−1, (iii) dispersities of 1.3–2.9 and (iv) a wide span of glass transition temperatures, from −45 up to 169 °C.