Photoredox catalysis using a new iridium complex as an efficient toolbox for radical, cationic and controlled polymerizations under soft blue to green lights†
A new iridium complex (nIr) was designed and investigated as a photoinitiator catalyst for radical and cationic polymerizations upon very soft irradiations (lights ranging from 457 to 532 nm). A ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of an epoxy monomer was easily promoted through the interaction between nIr and an iodonium salt (Iod) upon light. The addition of N-vinylcarbazole (NVK) enhances the performance. In radical polymerization, nIr can be efficient in combination with phenacyl bromide (PBr) and optionally an amine: these photoinitiating systems work according to an original oxidative cycle and a regeneration of nIr is observed. A control of the methyl methacrylate polymerization (conducted under a 462 nm light) with 1.2–1.6 polydispersity indexes was displayed. Surface modifications by direct laser write was also easily carried out for the first time through surface re-initiation experiments, i.e. the dormant species being reactivated by light in the presence of nIr; the polymer surfaces were analyzed by XPS. The chemical mechanisms were examined through laser flash photolysis, NMR, ESR and size exclusion chromatography experiments.