Versatile Strategies for Multifunctional Polyolefins

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Polyolefins have quickly become one of the world’s most utilized products since their discovery in the 1950s. With 350 million tons produced each year, it is clear that the use of polyolefins is not subsiding in the near future. Instead, it is imperative to develop novel materials that are more efficient than their current counterparts. As the function of a plastic is derived from its properties, creating polyolefins with designable and targetable attributes is a major priority. The Sita group has played a huge role in the development of ‘precision’ polyolefins. The techniques employed allow for the scalable synthesis of a plethora of polyolefins. To do this, input variables such as the monomer, tacticity, molar mass, and molar mass distribution are controlled in an organized manner to affect output properties such as crystallinity, elasticity, and tensile strength. The ability to create diverse plastics is necessary for the functions asked of them, however, the missing element in almost all polyolefin synthesis is chemical functionality. The inert nature of polyolefins leads to limited reactivity, therefore, reducing possible chemical reactions, such as recycling. The goal of this work is to increase the scope of functional polyolefins so that new materials with improved properties can be produced. The first step in adding functionality is choosing the proper functional group. A drawback to many polyolefin functionalities currently under study is that they have a very limited scope. Functional groups are designed and used individually, requiring different compounds for each target functionality. To overcome this obstacle, aryl functional groups were targeted in this report. Phenyl functionalities are known for undergoing a range of chemical transformations leading to a wide variety of possible materials. Described in this report, aryl-functionalized polyolefins were synthesized using three different techniques. Each method has been shown to later undergo post-synthetic transformations to yield new functional groups that can either be used as contact points for macromolecular building blocks or as chromophores for optical observation. The single use or combination of these techniques has led to polyolefin-based materials that may in fact lower the barrier for the next-generation of functional polyolefins.