Mechanistic Insights into Water-Mediated Tandem Catalysis of Metal-Coordination CO2/Epoxide Copolymerization and Organocatalytic Ring-Opening Polymerization: One-Pot, Two Steps, and Three Catalysis Cycles for Triblock Copolymers Synthesis Academic Article uri icon


  • 2016 American Chemical Society. The addition of water as a chain transfer reagent during the copolymerization reaction of epoxides and carbon dioxide has been shown as a promising method for producing CO2-based polycarbonate polyols. These polyols can serve as drop-in replacements for petroleum derived polyols for polyurethane production or designer block copolymers. Ironically, during the history of CO2/epoxide coupling development, water was generally considered primarily as an aversion reagent. That is, in its presence, low catalytic activity and high polydispersity was normally observed. Recently, we reported a water-mediated tandem metal-coordination CO2/epoxide copolymerization and organobase catalyzed ring-opening polymerization (ROP) approach for the one-pot synthesis of an ABA CO2-based triblock copolymers. As in previous studies, water was deemed as the chain transfer reagent in this tandem strategy for producing CO2-based polyols. Herein is presented a mechanistic study aimed at determining the intimate role water plays during the metal-catalyzed CO2/epoxide copolymerization process. In this regard, it was observed that under the commonly employed (salen)Co(trifluoroacetate)/onium salt binary catalyst system, water was not the true chain-transfer reagent, but instead reacted initially with the epoxides to afford the corresponding diols which serves as the chain-transfer reagent. The further studies in resultant afforded ,-dihydroxyl end-capped polycarbonates were utilized in direct chain extension via ROP of the water-soluble cyclic phosphate monomer, 2-methoxy-2-oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphospholene employing an organocatalyst. These triblock copolymers displayed narrow PDI and were found to provide nanostructure materials which should be of use in biomedical applications.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, G., & Darensbourg, D. J.

citation count

  • 97

complete list of authors

  • Wu, Guang-Peng||Darensbourg, Donald J

publication date

  • February 2016