Magnetic Janus nanocomposites with iridium(iii) complexes for heterogeneous catalysis of logic controlled RAFT polymerization using multiplexed external switching†
Photoinduced electron/energy transfer-reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (PET-RAFT) polymerization has emerged as a versatile and highly-efficient method for the polymerization of more activated monomers including N,N-dimethylacrylamide and methyl acrylate, and less activated monomers including N-vinylpyrrolidone and vinyl acetate, whilst imposing composition, sequence and spatiotemporal regulation. Although significant progress has been achieved in terms of ability to regulate PET-RAFT polymerization through the implementation of myriad environmental cues, it is still a great challenge to introduce multiple external switches within a single catalyst to accomplish logic toggling of controlled radical polymerization (CRP). Herein, we report the synthesis and characterization of Fe3O4@aSiO2@PNMIr Janus nanocomposites coupled with immobilized heteroleptic iridium(III) complexes for heterogeneous catalysis of PET-RAFT polymerization. With this catalytic nanoarchitecture, we demonstrate multi-stimuli switching of CRPs using three different external physical manipulations: light “ON”/“OFF”, magnet “OUT”/“IN” and temperature “LOW”/“HIGH”. In addition, these magnetic Janus nanocomposites endowed radical polymerization with various attractive characteristics such as compatibility of myriad monomer formulations including “more activated” and “less activated” monomers, unique oxygen tolerance and ppm-level catalyst dosage. Logic-controlled polymerization with Fe3O4@aSiO2@PNMIr nanocomposites provides a straightforward, robust and user-friendly strategy for realizing multiplexed external switching of polymer propagation using a single nanocatalyst without the involvement of exogenous reagents.