Rapidly self-deoxygenating controlled radical polymerization in water via in situ disproportionation of Cu(i)†
Rapidly self-deoxygenating Cu-RDRP in aqueous media is investigated. The disproportionation of Cu(I)/Me6Tren in water towards Cu(II) and highly reactive Cu(0) leads to O2-free reaction environments within the first seconds of the reaction, even when the reaction takes place in the open-air. By leveraging this significantly fast O2-reducing activity of the disproportionation reaction, a range of well-defined water-soluble polymers with narrow dispersity are attained in a few minutes or less. This methodology provides the ability to prepare block copolymers via sequential monomer addition with little evidence for chain termination over the lifetime of the polymerization and allows for the synthesis of star-shaped polymers with the use of multi-functional initiators. The mechanism of self-deoxygenation is elucidated with the use of various characterization tools, and the species that participate in the rapid oxygen consumption is identified and discussed in detail.