Programmable High-Throughput Platform for the Rapid and Scalable Synthesis of Polyester and Polycarbonate Libraries
The critical role of composition, architecture, molecular weight, and molecular weight distribution on the functional properties of macromolecular materials underscores the need for reproducible, robust, scalable, and programmable synthetic methods to generate macromolecules that span a systematic and wide range of structure-property space. Herein, we describe the marriage of tunable and highly active organic catalysts with programmed continuous-flow reactors to rapidly generate libraries of polyester and polycarbonate homopolymers and block copolymers with exquisite efficiency and control. Under continuous-flow conditions, highly controlled polymerizations occur with residence times as low as 6 ms (TOF = 24000000 h-1) and can be readily scaled-up to generate polymers at a rate of tens of grams per minute. We describe an in-flow catalyst switch strategy to enable the rapid generation of block copolymer libraries (100 distinct polymers in 9 min) from monomers with drastically different reactivity profiles.