Polymerization of reactive S-vinyl monomers

Sulfur-containing substances offer enormous versatility, but also can be modified very easily to cover a wide range of properties. However, large-scale applications are still rather sporadic and the potential is far from exhausted. Polymer chemistry in particular is an interesting field of development, even if research is not progressing as quickly due to the lack of monomers. S-vinyl monomers in particular represent a niche in the polymer chemistry due to the challenge just described. However, the BASF SE recently succeeded in establishing the large-scale synthesis of the new S-vinyl monomer vinyl mercaptoethanol. Based on this, it was now possible to investigate the polymerization behavior in more detail. Homogeneous radical polymerization was performed, leading to a deeper understanding of the reactivities in the polymerization and the properties of the resulting polymers. And also heterogeneous radical polymerization, which led to the formation of stable particles, was carried out sucessfully. But, the focus was not only on the polymerization behavior of vinylmercaptoethanol, but also on the polymerization of the oxidized form (vinylsulfonylethanol). However, the radical polymerization proved unsuitable, the step-growth polymerization oxa-michael polyaddition was chosen instead, since this appeared to be very promising due to the characteristics of the monomer. And indeed, polymers with high molecular weights could be formed within a short time.

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