Rapid, selective, and reversible nitroxide radical coupling (NCR) reactions at ambient temperature

Jakov Kulis, Craig A. Bell, Aaron S. Micallef, Zhongfan Jia, Michael J. Monteiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


High activation of polystyrene with bromine end groups (PSTY-Br) to their incipient radicals occurred in the presence of Cu(I)Br, Me6TREN, and DMSO solvent. These radicals were then trapped by nitroxide species leading to coupling reactions between PSTY-Br and nitroxides that were ultrafast and selective in the presence of a diverse range of functional groups. The nitroxide radical coupling (NRC) reactions have the attributes of a "click" reaction with near quantitative yields of product formed, but through the reversibility of this reaction, it has the added advantage of permitting the exchange of chemical functionality on macromolecules. Conditions were chosen to facilitate the disproportionation of Cu(I)Br to the highly activating nascent Cu(0) and deactivating Cu(II)Br2 in the presence of DMSO solvent and Me6TREN ligand. NRC at room temperature gave near quantitative yields of macromolecular coupling of low molecular weight polystyrene with bromine chain-ends (PSTY-Br) and nitroxides in under 7 min even in the presence of functional groups (e.g., -=, -OH, -COOH, -NH2, =O). Utilization of the reversibility of the NRC reaction at elevated temperatures allowed the exchange of chain-end groups with a variety of functional nitroxide derivatives. The robustness and orthogonality of this NRC reaction were further demonstrated using the Cu-catalyzed azide/alkyne "click" (CuAAC) reactions, in which yields greater than 95% were observed for coupling between PSTY-N3 and a PSTY chain first trapped with an alky ne functional TEMPO (PSTY-TEMPO-=).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8218-8227
Number of pages10
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


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