Improved photo-induced cobalt-mediated radical polymerization in continuous flow photoreactors†
The implementation of cobalt-mediated radical polymerization (CMRP) for continuous microreactor synthesis is described. We demonstrate how the utilization of flow photoreactors allows the speed up of the polymerization of vinyl acetate (VAc) under UV irradiation without loss of polymerization control. Microfluidics under UV irradiation has also been successfully implemented for the copolymerization of VAc with a less reactive olefin 1-octene (1-Oct). Reactivity ratios were deduced for this copolymerization system, and poly(VAc-co-1-Oct) copolymers containing up to 50 mol% of 1-Oct were synthesized. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on a photopolymerization where continuous flow techniques not only led to an improvement of reaction rates and dispersity, but also led to the avoidance of significant side-products that were observed in batch processing.