Reversible Addition-Fragmentation Chain Transfer Polymerization (RAFT)

Reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer polymerization, or RAFT, is a type of controlled radical polymerization. It was first reported in the 1980s with the mediation of thiocarbonylthio compounds, to produce polymers with low dispersity (molecular weight distribution), high end-group fidelity and selected molecular weight. RAFT polymerization is known for its compatibility with a large range of monomers to other controlled radical polymerizations. Moreover, this polymerization also suits a wide range of the reaction parameters such as temperature and purities. Typically, the RAFT polymerization system consists of the radical source to produce the free radical, monomers, RAFT agent and solvent if is required. It is a technique that has been adopted for a wide range of applications, from the experiment of laboratories to generate various materials from medicine to material science.  

Mechanism

RAFT polymerization is a free radical process mediated by RAFT agent. The monomers must be able to be polymerized through free radical pathways. Several steps are followed in this process: initiation, propagation, RAFT pre-equilibrium, re-initiation, main RAFT equilibrium and termination.

Mechanism of the RAFT polymerization process. Fig. 1 Mechanism of the RAFT polymerization process. (Macromolecules, 2017 50(19), 7433-7447)

Radical source

Applications

Chemical structures that can be achieved via RAFT polymerization. Fig. 2 Chemical structures that can be achieved via RAFT polymerization.

Reference:

  1. Perrier, S. 50th Anniversary Perspective: RAFT Polymerization. A User Guide. Macromolecules, 2017 50(19), 7433-7447.

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