Lay summary

The first two sub-projects deal with the development of new synthetic methods that allow the synthesis of polymer chains with precisely defined end-groups. The ends of long polymer chains often need to be chemically different to the rest of the polymer chain in order to allow their attachment to surfaces or to synthesize more complex polymer architectures. The ring opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) using ruthenium carbene initiators developed recently by Grubbs (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2005) allows the synthesis of well-defined polymers. However, only few methods were reported until recently that addressed the functionalization of the polymer chain ends. The work proposed here deals with the development of new synthetic procedures that allow control over the nature of the polymer chain ends in ROMP polymers.

The third sub-project deals with the synthesis of diblock copolymers, i.e. linear polymer chains that consist of two chemically different strands covalently linked via their chain ends. Such polymers often adopt interesting solid state phases because the two chemically linked strands try to separate from each other. As they cannot fully separate due to their chemical linkage, they form periodic patterns in the solid state in which regions of different chemical composition alternate. Some of these patterned solid state structures (for example the so called gyroid phase) are envisaged to be of great interest for the fabrication of solar cells and other electronic devices. However, the synthesis of these more interesting phases is often difficult to achieve in a controlled manner. In our sub-project we propose the synthesis of new polymers that can be altered after the polymerization in such a way as to target these interesting solid state phases with high confidence.