Cyclopentadiene-Maleimide Platform for Thermally Reversible Polymers
This dissertation describes a new platform for the synthesis of thermally reversible polymers, based on Diels-Alder reactions of bis-cyclopentadienes (bis-CPDs) and bis-maleimides (bis-MIs), that meets two main objectives. First, the bis-CPD must resist characteristic self-coupling. Second, the CPD-MI adducts should undergo the retro-Diels-Alder (rDA) reaction (i.e., thermal depolymerization) in a temperature regime that is comparable or slightly higher than that of the freely reversible bis-furan/bis-MI polymers (rDA between 80 °C and 130 °C) but much lower than that of bis-CPD homopolymers (rDA above 160 °C).
Structure-reactivity relationships gleaned from the literature and from related but as yet unpublished work in our own laboratories led to our main hypothesis that a CPD moiety bearing one sterically encumbering substituent such as isopropyl (𝑖Pr) or tert-butyl (𝑡Bu) and one electronwithdrawing substituent such as perfluoroaryl would have the desired reactivity and adduct stability in combination with an 𝑁-substituted maleimide. Synthetic considerations led to a bisCPD monomer design in which two alkylcyclopentadiene groups (alkyl = 𝑖Pr or 𝑡Bu) are connected by an octafluorobiphenylene linker.
As an initial fundamental step (Chapter 3), 1-(nonafluorobiphenyl-4’-yl)-4-tertbutylcyclopentadiene (1) was synthesized to provide a monofunctional model for the proposed difunctional CPD monomer. Reactions of 1 and 𝑁-(4-fluorophenyl)maleimide (FMI) afforded up to five regio- and stereo-isomeric adducts (of fourteen possible). Variable-temperature reactivity studies combined with NMR spectroscopic analysis, X-ray crystallography, and computational modeling enabled product distributions to be understood according to a conventional kinetic-vs- iii thermodynamic framework. These studies also predicted the microstructure of polymers derived from the proposed bis-CPD monomer, which is structurally analogous to 1, and bis-MIs. Moreover, 1 does not undergo DA self-coupling under ordinary conditions (T < 180 °C). Thermolysis studies of the major adducts revealed that the rDA becomes observable on a laboratory timescale (hours) at about 140 °C, which is at the upper end of the temperature range reported for furan+MI adducts but well below that of CPD+CPD adducts. In contrast, adducts formed from either of the analogous monosubstituted cyclopentadienes (𝑡BuC₅H₅ and C₆F₅C₅H₅) do not undergo rDA below 180 °C. These results strongly support the proposed bis-CPD monomer design.
In a second fundamental step (Chapter 4), the hypothesis that an electron-withdrawing CPD substituent would destabilize a CPD-MI adduct was further tested by reacting 𝑁-(4- fluorophenyl)maleimide with a series of triarylated cyclopentadienes (1,2,3-Ar₃C₅H₃ and 1,2,4- Ar₃C₅H₃, Ar = C₆F₅, C₆F₄CF₃, and Ar = C₅F₄N). The perfluorophenyl- and perfluorotolylsubstituted compounds were previously reported, but the perfluoropyridyl-substituted cyclopentadienes were prepared for this study using SNAr reactions of pentafluoropyridine and sodium cyclopentadienide. The least electron deficient cyclopentadiene in each series (Ar = C₆F₅) reacted the most quickly and with the highest ultimate equilibrium binding constant, confirming the electron-effects hypothesis as well as the underlying presumption that DA reactions of even relatively electron-poor CPDs with MI would behave according to normal-electron-demand principles.
In the main section of this dissertation (Chapter 5) the proposed bis(cyclopentadiene)s reacted with a series of previously reported bis(maleimides) to form linear polymers having molecular weights (Mn) up to 40 kDa. Relationships among the length and flexibility of the bis-MI linker (C₆H₁₂, C₁₂H₂₄, C₆H₄OC₆H₄, and (C₂H₄O)₂), the identity of the CPD alkyl substitutent (CHMe₂, CMe₃ and CMe₂Ph) and the glass transition temperature (Tg) as measured by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were understood in terms of a general model of local segmental mobility and free volume. Solution thermolysis of a model polymer system (bis-MI linker = C₆H₁₂ (7), CPD alkyl substituent = 𝑡Bu) showed a rapid decrease in molecular weight at 160 °C as determined by size exclusion chromatography (SEC). Solution thermolysis in the presence of excess FMI (as a trap for free CPD moieties) revealed that the onset temperature for rDA on a laboratory time scale (hours) was as low as 120 °C. In the bulk, thermolysis above 250 °C under vacuum led to recovery of a small portion of the bis-CPD monomer, but bulk thermolysis at 200 °C did not reveal a change in molecular weight as determined by SEC. The current interpretation of these observations is that limited mobility in these glassy polymers prohibits retro-DA decoupling. These findings largely validate the main hypothesis of this dissertation.