GOALI: Catalysts for Copolymerization of Acrylate Monomers with Simple Olefins

Project: Research project

Project Details


Prof. Ayusman Sen, Chemistry Department, Pennsylvania State University, and Dr. Brian Goodall, Rohm & Haas Company, are supported by a GOALI grant from the Inorganic, Bioinorganic, and Organometallic Program of the Chemistry Division for the development of high activity catalysts for the copolymerization of acrylate monomers and simple olefins. In this study catalysts based on complexes of copper(I), palladium(II) and rhodium(III) will be targeted. The choice of these metal ions stems from their relatively low oxophilicity, which will serve to minimize any interactions between the metal ion and the acrylate ester group. Specifically, the catalytic properties of a series of bis(oxazoline) copper complexes, Pd(II) complexes of monoanionic, nominally bidentate ligands, including sulfonated phosphines and 'nac-nac;' and tripodal Rh complexes of triazacyclononane will be evaluated. Detailed mechanistic studies will be undertaken to determine the nature of the catalytically active species and the steps in chain propagation. The results will be used to tune the catalysts to achieve control of the copolymerization.

The incorporation of functional groups into an otherwise non-polar polymer allows the control of important properties, such as toughness, adhesion, barrier properties, surface properties (paintability, printability, gloss, hardness, mar resistance), solvent resistance (or its inverse), miscibility with other polymers, and rheological properties. This project aims to develop high activity catalysts that allow the synthesis of polymers that are composed of polar acrylates and nonpolar olefins. Because no efficient catalyst is available for rapidly copolymerizing olefins and acrylates to high molecular weight polymers, the successful completion of the project will fill a missing link in polymer science. Rohm and Haas is an industrial leader in the production of acrylate polymers and Prof. Sen is an academic expert in copolymerization. Hence, partnership between the two will provide a unique environment for the development of practical catalysts. The project will contribute to the development of human resources in science and technology through the education of undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral scholars in the overlapping areas of structural and mechanistic organometallic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and catalysis. Additionally, the collaboration with Rohm and Haas will provide the researchers with valuable industrial experience.

Effective start/end date7/15/036/30/06


  • National Science Foundation: $422,000.00


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