Metal salen derivatives as catalysts for the alternating copolymerization of oxetanes and carbon dioxide to afford polycarbonates.
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Metal salen derivatives of chromium and aluminum, along with n-Bu4NX (X = Cl or N3) salts, have been shown to be effective catalysts for the selective coupling of CO2 and oxetane (trimethylene oxide) to provide the corresponding polycarbonate with only trace quantities of ether linkages. The formation of copolymer is suggested, based on circumstantial evidence, not to proceed via the intermediacy of trimethylene carbonate, which was observed as a minor product of the coupling reaction. For a reaction catalyzed by (salen)CrCl in the presence of n-Bu4NN3 as the cocatalyst, both matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry and infrared spectroscopy revealed an azide end group in the copolymer.