Incorporation of catechols into polymers has long been of interest due to their ability to chelate heavy metals and their use in the design of adhesives, metal-polymer nanocomposites, antifouling coatings, and so on. This paper reports, for the first time, the reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization of a protected catechol-inspired monomer, 3,4-dimethoxystyrene (DMS), using commercially available trithiocarbonate, 2-(dodecylthiocarbonothioylthio)-2-methylpropionic acid (DDMAT), as a chain transfer agent. Our identified RAFT system produces well-defined polymers across a range of molecular weights (5-50 kg/mol) with low molar mass dispersities (Mw/Mn < 1.3). Subsequent facile demethylation of poly(3,4-dimethoxystyrene) (PDMS) yields poly(3,4-dihydroxystyrene) (PDHS), a catechol-bearing polymer, in quantitative yields. Semiquantitative zinc binding capacity analysis of both polymers using SEM/EDXA has demonstrated that both PDMS and PDHS have considerable surface binding (65% and 87%, respectively), although the films deposited from PDMS are of a better quality and processability due to solubility and lower processing temperatures.
Bibliographical noteFunding: European Union 7th framework programme (FP7/2011 grant agreement ESTABLIS no. 290022).
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