Role of the Transition Metal in Grignard Metathesis Polymerization (GRIM) of 3-Hexylthiophene


Regioregular poly(3-alkylthiophene)s are widely used in organic electronics applications such as solar cells and field effect transistors. Nickel, palladium, and platinum diphenylphosphinoethane complexes were tested as catalysts for the Grignard metathesis (GRIM) polymerization of 2,5-dibromo-3-hexylthiophene and 2-bromo-5-iodo-3-hexylthiophene. Nickel-mediated polymerization generated regioregular, low-polydispersity poly(3-hexylthiophene) with well-defined molecular weight consistent with a "living" chain-growth mechanism. By contrast, palladium-mediated polymerization proceeded by a step-growth mechanism and generated polymers with less than 80% head-to-tail couplings. Platinum-mediated polymerization gave very low molecular weight products. Kinetic and computational results suggested that the nickel catalyst acts as an initiator and remains associated with the growing polymer chain, while palladium dissociates from the growing chain. Computational and experimental evidence was provided for various side reactions of dissociated Pd(0) catalyst, which could yield a step growth mechanism and lower regioirregularity.



Polymerization, Monomers--Research, Thiophenes


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