Impact of competitive processes on controlled radical polymerization
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The kinetics of radical polymerization have been systematically studied for nearly a century and in general are well understood. However, in light of recent developments in controlled radical polymerization many kinetic anomalies have arisen. These unexpected results have been largely considered separate, and various, as yet inconclusive, debates as to the cause of these anomalies are ongoing. Herein we present a new theory on the cause of changes in kinetics under controlled radical polymerization conditions. We show that where the fast, intermittent deactivation of radical species takes place, changes in the relative rates of the competitive reactions that exist in radical polymerization can occur. To highlight the applicability of the model, we demonstrate that the model explains well the reduction in branching in acrylic polymers in RAFT polymerization. We further show that such a theory may explain various phenomena in controlled radical polymerization and may be exploited to design precise macromolecular architectures.