Preparation of Polymer Nanoparticles by Ring Opening Metathesis Polymerization in Aqueous Dispersed Systems with Water-Soluble Ruthenium-based Catalyst
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Ring opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) is a variant of olefin metathesis used to polymerize strained cyclic olefins. Ruthenium-based Grubbs’ catalysts are widely used in ROMP to produce industrially important products. While highly efficient in organic solvents such as dichloromethane and toluene, these hydrophobic catalysts are not typically applied in aqueous systems. With the advancements in emulsion and miniemulsion polymerization, it is promising to conduct ROMP in an aqueous dispersed phase to generate well-defined latex nanoparticles while improving heat transfer and reducing the use of volatile organic solvents (VOCs). Herein I report the efforts made using a PEGylated ruthenium alkylidene as the catalyst to initiate ROMP in an oil-in-water miniemulsion. 1H NMR revealed that the synthesized PEGylated catalyst was stable and reactive in water. Using 1,5-cyclooctadiene (COD) as monomer, we showed the highly efficient catalyst yielded colloidally stable polymer latexes with ~ 100% conversion at room temperature. Kinetic studies demonstrated first-order kinetics with good livingness as confirmed by the shift of gel permeation chromatography (GPC) traces. Depending on the surfactants used, the particle sizes ranged from 100 to 300 nm with monomodal distributions. The more strained cyclic olefin norbornene (NB) could also be efficiently polymerized with a PEGylated ruthenium alkylidene in miniemulsion to full conversion and with minimal coagulum formation.