Abstract: Organic photoredox catalysts have been shown to operate organocatalyzed atom transfer radical polymerizations (O-ATRP) using visible light as the driving force. In this work, the effect of light intensity from white LEDs was evaluated as an influential factor in control over the polymerization and the production of well-defined polymers. We posit the irradiation conditions control the concentrations of various catalyst states necessary to mediate a controlled radical polymerization. Systematic dimming of white LEDs allowed for consideration of the role of light intensity on the polymerization performance. The general effects of decreased irradiation intensity in photoinduced O-ATRP were investigated through comparing two different organic photoredox catalysts: perylene and an 3,7-di(4-biphenyl) 1-naphthalene-10-phenoxazine. Previous computational efforts have investigated catalyst photophysical and electrochemical characteristics, but the broad and complex effects of varied irradiation intensity as an experimental variable on the mechanism of O-ATRP have not been explored. This work revealed that perylene requires more stringent irradiation conditions to achieve controlled polymer molecular weight growth and produce polymers with dispersities <1.50. In contrast, the 3,7-di(4-biphenyl) 1-naphthalene-10-phenoxazine is more robust, achieving linear polymer molecular weight growth under relative irradiation intensity as low as 25%, to produce polymers with dispersities <1.50. This finding is significant, as the discovery of highly robust catalysts is necessary to allow for the adoption of successful O-ATRP in a wide scope of conditions, including those which necessitate low light intensity irradiation.
Reference: Ryan, M. D.; Pearson, R. M.; French, T. A.; Miyake, G. M., Impact of Light Intensity on Control in Photoinduced Organocatalyzed Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization. Macromolecules 2017, 50, 4616.