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Sustainable polymer synthesis through the design of organic photoredox catalysts and development of poly(norbornane trithiolanes)


There are many avenues through which the sustainability synthesis, use, and disposal of polymeric materials can be approached. One of the two approaches explored in this work is the sustainable design and use of polymerization catalysts. Proper employment of catalysis can greatly decrease the energy input required to synthesize polymers and intentional design of those catalysts can enable their use in small quantities without compromising their effectiveness or the sustainability with which they are made and used. Herein, the development of a new class of metal-free photoredox catalysts (made from abundant elements) which can use visible wavelengths of light (a readily available, replenishable, and mild source of energy) to control the polymerization acrylate monomers is reported. Through this work we provide insight into how catalyst structure can be tuned to achieve desired properties and what properties might render certain catalysts more effective at lower loadings. The second approach explored herein towards improving the sustainability of polymer synthesis, use, and disposal is related to the recyclability of the polymeric materials. In addition to sustainable synthesis through catalysis, one way to improve the sustainability of polymeric materials is to increase their viable economic lifetime. Polymeric materials that are readily recyclable prevent the loss of materials through disposal. In the work reported herein methods for the synthesis and polymerization of sulfur-containing monomers to generate polymeric materials with intrinsic recyclability are investigated, approaches for efficient depolymerization of such polymers improved, and the scope of these materials expanded.


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