Highly efficient organic photocatalysts discovered via a computer-aided-design strategy for visible-light-driven atom transfer radical polymerization

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Nature Catalysis, ISSN: 2520-1158, Vol: 1, Issue: 10, Page: 794-804

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Singh, Varun Kumar; Yu, Changhoon; Badgujar, Sachin; Kim, Youngmu; Kwon, Yonghwa; Kim, Doyon; Lee, Junhyeok; Akhter, Toheed; Thangavel, Gurunathan; Park, Lee Soon; Lee, Jiseok; Nandajan, Paramjyothi C.; Wannermacher, Reinhold; Milián-Medina, Begoña; Lüer, Larry; Kim, Kwang S.; Gierschner, Johannes; Kwon, Min Sang Show More Hide
Springer Nature America, Inc; NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP
Chemical Engineering; Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
article description
Organocatalysed photoredox-mediated atom transfer radical polymerization (O-ATRP) is a very promising polymerization method as it eliminates concerns associated with transition-metal contamination of polymer products. However, reducing the amount of catalyst and expanding the monomer scope remain major challenges in O-ATRP. Herein, we report a systematic computer-aided-design strategy to identify powerful visible-light photoredox catalysts for O-ATRP. One of our discovered organic photoredox catalysts controls the polymerization of methyl methacrylate at sub-ppm catalyst loadings (0.5 ppm—a very meaningful amount enabling the direct use of polymers without a catalyst removal process); that is, 100–1,000 times lower loadings than other organic photoredox catalysts reported so far. Another organic photoredox catalyst with supra-reducing power in an excited state and high redox stability facilitates the challenging polymerization of the non-acrylic monomer styrene, which is not successful using existing photoredox catalysts. This work provides access to diverse challenging organic/polymer syntheses and makes O-ATRP viable for many industrial and biomedical applications.