PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 13) — Chemists at the University of Pennsylvania have created a process based on free radicals that they claim allows for polymerization to take place at room temperature using less metal catalysts and in a shortened time period.
The process is called SET-LRP — for Single Electron Transfer-Living Radical Polymerization — offers chemists greater control over the molecular architecture of the polymers they create and allows them to use materials that did not work with the traditional process, according to Virgil Percec, a professor in Penn´s Department of Chemistry.
"We have basically re-written the equation of how the polymerization process can work," Percec said. "The applications for the technology are enormous, ranging from medicine to coatings, from moldable forms of rubber to electronics and even complex organic synthesis, all via these radical reactions."
The mechanism of the synthesis reaction works so well that there is very little worry about undesirable side reactions, Percec said, and the resulting polymers do not need to be purified to remove the catalyst.
The SET-LRP mechanism can allow for a greater control over the three-dimensional structure of the polymers being created, Percec said.