Terminology for chain polymerization (IUPAC Recommendations 2021)

Christopher M. Fellows, Richard G. Jones, Daniel J. Keddie, Christine K. Luscombe, John B. Matson, Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, Jan Merna, Graeme Moad, Tamaki Nakano, Stanislaw Penczek, Gregory T. Russell, Paul D. Topham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chain polymerizations are defined as chain reactions where the propagation steps occur by reaction between monomer(s) and active site(s) on the polymer chains with regeneration of the active site(s) at each step. Many forms of chain polymerization can be distinguished according to the mechanism of the propagation step (e.g., cyclopolymerization – when rings are formed, condensative chain polymerization – when propagation is a condensation reaction, group-transfer polymerization, polyinsertion, ring-opening polymerization – when rings are opened), whether they involve a termination step or not (e.g., living polymerization – when termination is absent, reversible-deactivation polymerization), whether a transfer step is involved (e.g., degenerative-transfer polymerization), and the type of chain carrier or active site (e.g., radical, ion, electrophile, nucleophile, coordination complex). The objective of this document is to provide a language for describing chain polymerizations that is both readily understandable and self-consistent, and which covers recent developments in this rapidly evolving field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093-1147
Number of pages55
JournalPure and Applied Chemistry
Issue number9
Early online date24 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 IUPAC & De Gruyter. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more information, please visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • anionic
  • catalyst-transfer
  • cationic
  • chain polymerization
  • controlled polymerization
  • coordination
  • coordination polymerization
  • group transfer polymerization
  • insertion polymerization
  • ionic polymerization
  • living polymerization
  • radical
  • radical polymerization
  • reverible deactivation polymerization


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