ROMPing around the Carnival
The polymers that can be synthesized through ROMP have a lot of industrial applications. One of the most famous is Norsorex, or polynorbornene, which is a shock-absorbing materialused in protective equipment, sound insulation, and vibrational damping. Through a single monomer, ROMP can access structures normally difficult copolymerize with individual monomers. One example is a perfectly alternating copolymer of 1,4-butadiene and isoprene.
As with any other chemical reaction, there are limitations. ROMP’s limitation is that the monomers must be cyclic and possess sufficient ring strain. Although it might be difficult to synthesize momomers with these desired attributes, it is possible to derivatize naturally existing materials. Last year, the Larock group developed biorenewable-based thermosets from the ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) of fatty alcohols derived from soybean oil and castor oil.# Of course, this work illustrated the robustness and versatility of Grubbs’ catalyst (like so many papers), but what is key is that it also highlighted the substantial role that metathesis catalysts can have in the development of polymers from biorenewable feedstocks as the pressures of traditional petroleum-derived feedstocks grows.
Well, that is a great place to end. The thought about using renewable feedstocks not just for energy but also for carrying out chemistry is an important direction to consider. Actually, a reaction very similar to ROMP that I have not expanded is, ROP (Ring-Opening Polymerization) and that polymerization is responsible for the material in biodegradable “corn pens”(polylactic acid).
1. Polymers have a narrow mass distribution. Meaning that the Gaussian distribution curve of polymer lengths is narrow indicating that a majority of the polymers are similar in length.
2. No premature chain termination. This helps to achieve the first point. If the growth of the polymer chains are cut off at different times then there will be a wider distribution of polymer lengths. This point also allows us to build copolymers. Once all of the first monomer is consumed and a second monomer is added, the polymerization continues adding in the second monomer.
3. All the chains start fast and at the same time.