Cationic ring opening polymerisation (CROP) of oxetane and its derivatives using oxonium derived initiators

  • David Bray

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Several cationic initiator systems were developed and used to polymerise oxetane with two oxonium ion initiator systems being investigated in depth. The first initiator system was generated by the elimination of a chloride group from a chloro methyl ethyl ether. Adding a carbonyl co-catalyst to a carbocationic centre generated the second initiator system. It was found that the anion used to stabilise the initiator was critical to the initial rate of polymerisation of oxetane with hexafluoroantimonate resulting in the fastest polymerisations. Both initiator systems could be used at varying monomer to initiator concentrations to control the molecular number average, Mn, of the resultant polymer.
Both initiator systems showed living characteristics and were used to polymerise further monomers and generate higher molecular weight material and block copolymers.
Oxetane and 3,3-dimethyl oxetane can both be polymerised using either oxonium ion initiator system in a variety of DCM or DCM/1,4-dioxane solvent mixtures. The level of 1,4-dioxane does have an impact on the initial rate of polymerisation with higher levels resulting in lower initial rates of polymerisation but do tend to result in higher polydispersities. The level of oligomer formation is also reduced as the level of 1,4-dioxane is increased.
3,3-bis-bromomethyl oxetane was also polymerised but a large amount of hyperbranching was seen at the bromide site resulting in a difficult to solvate polymer system.
Multifunctional initiator systems were also generated using the halide elimination reactions with some success being achieved with 1,3,5-tris-bromomethyl-2,4,6-tris-methyl-benzene derived initiator system. This offered some control over the molecular number average of the resultant polymer system.
Date of AwardMar 2009
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAllan J Amass (Supervisor)


  • oxetane
  • cationic-ring-opening-polymerisation (CROP)
  • 3,3-bis-bromomethyl oxetane
  • block copolymers
  • multifunctional initiators

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