RAFT-based polystyrene and polyacrylate melts under thermal and mechanical stress

Ozcan Altintas, Kamran Riazi, Richmond Lee, Ching Y. Lin, Michelle L. Coote, Manfred Wilhelm*, Christopher Barner-Kowollik

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    Although controlled/living radical polymerization processes have significantly facilitated the synthesis of well-defined low polydispersity polymers with specific functionalities, a detailed and systematic knowledge of the thermal stability of the products-highly important for most industrial processes-is not available. Linear polystyrene (PS) carrying a trithiocarbonate mid-chain functionality (thus emulating the structure of the Z-group approach via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) based macromolecular architectures) with various chain lengths (20 kDa ≤ Mn,SEC ≤ 150 kDa, 1.27 ≤ Crossed D sign = Mw/Mn ≤ 1.72) and chain-end functionality were synthesized via RAFT polymerization. The thermal stability behavior of the polymers was studied at temperatures ranging from 100 to 200 C for up to 504 h (3 weeks). The thermally treated polymers were analyzed via size exclusion chromatography (SEC) to obtain the dependence of the polymer molecular weight distribution on time at a specific temperature under air or inert atmospheres. Cleavage rate coefficients of the mid-chain functional polymers in inert atmosphere were deduced as a function of temperature, resulting in activation parameters for two disparate Mn starting materials (Ea = 115 ± 4 kJ·mol-1, A = 0.85 × 109 ± 1 × 109 s-1, M n,SEC = 21 kDa and Ea = 116 ± 4 kJ·mol -1, A = 6.24 × 109 ± 1 × 109 s-1, Mn,SEC = 102 kDa). Interestingly, the degradation proceeds significantly faster with increasing chain length, an observation possibly associated with entropic effects. The degradation mechanism was explored in detail via SEC-ESI-MS for acrylate based polymers and theoretical calculations suggesting a Chugaev-type cleavage process. Processing of the RAFT polymers via small scale extrusion as well as a rheological assessment at variable temperatures allowed a correlation of the processing conditions with the thermal degradation properties of the polystyrenes and polyacrylates in the melt.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)8079-8091
    Number of pages13
    Issue number20
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2013


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