Angewandte Chemie - International Edition

Synthetic polymers are of paramount importance - an incredibly wide range of polymeric materials possessing an impressive variety of properties have been developed to date. The recent emergence of artificial intelligence and automation presents a great opportunity to significantly speed up discovery and development of the next generation of advanced polymeric materials. We have focused on the high-throughput automated synthesis of multiblock copolymers, which are defined as three or more distinct polymer segments comprising different monomer compositions covalently bonded together in linear sequence. The present work has exploited automation to prepare high molecular weight multiblock copolymers (typically > 100,000 g mol-1) using RAFT polymerization in aqueous emulsions. A variety of original multiblock copolymers have been synthesised via a Chemspeed robot, exemplified by a high molecular weight multiblock copolymer comprising thirteen blocks. Libraries of copolymers of randomized monomer compositions, block orders, and block lengths were generated. One multiblock copolymer contained all four monomer families listed in the pool, which is unprecedented in the literature. The present work demonstrates that automation has the power to render complex and laborious syntheses of such unprecedented materials not just possible, but facile and straightforward, representing the way forward to the next generation of macromolecular architectures.

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Streamlining the Generation of Advanced Polymer Materials through the Marriage of Automation and Multiblock Copolymer Synthesis in Emulsion

Glenn K.K. Clothier,1 Thiago R. Guimarães,2 Steven W. Thompson,1 Shaun C. Howard,3 Benjamin W. Muir,3 Graeme Moad,3, and Per B. Zetterlund1,

1. Cluster for Advanced Macromolecular Design (CAMD), School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
2. Laboratoire de Chimie des Polymères Organiques (LCPO), CNRS (UMR 5629), ENSCPB, Université de Bordeaux, 16 avenue Pey Berland, 33607 Pessac, France
3. CSIRO Manufacturing, Bag 10, Clayton South, VIC 3169, Australia


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