Urea and Thiourea H-Bond Donating Catalysts for Ring-Opening Polymerization: Mechanistic Insights via (Non)linear Free Energy Relationships
Date of Original Version
Hammett-style free energy studies of (thio)urea/MTBD mediated ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of δ-valerolactone reveal the complicated interplay of reagents that give rise to catalysis through one of two mechanisms. The operative mechanism depends most greatly on the solvent, where polar solvents favor a (thio)imidate mechanism and nonpolar solvents favor a classic H-bond mediated ROP. Data suggest that the transition state is only adequately modeled with ground state thiourea-monomer interactions in the H-bonding pathway, and elusive urea/reagent ground state binding interactions may be irrelevant and, hence, not worth pursuing. However, neither relationship is robust enough to be predictive in the absence of other data. Isotope effects suggest that the base/alcohol binding event is directly observable in the ROP kinetics. New opportunities for catalysis emerge, and a reason for the observed mechanism change is proposed.
Pothupitiya, Jinal U., Rukshika S. Hewawasam, and Matthew K. Kiesewetter. "Urea and Thiourea H-Bond Donating Catalysts for Ring-Opening Polymerization: Mechanistic Insights via (Non)linear Free Energy Relationships." Macromolecules 51, 8 (2018): 3203-3211. doi:10.1021/acs.macromol.8b00321.