Encapsulation of catalyst in block copolymer micelles for the polymerization of ethylene in aqueous medium

Camille Boucher-Jacobs, Muhammad Rabnawaz, Joshua S. Katz, Ralph Even, Damien Guironnet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The catalytic emulsion polymerization of ethylene has been a long-lasting technical challenge as current techniques still suffer some limitations. Here we report an alternative strategy for the production of semi-crystalline polyethylene latex. Our methodology consists of encapsulating a catalyst precursor within micelles composed of an amphiphilic block copolymer. These micelles act as nanoreactors for the polymerization of ethylene in water. Phosphinosulfonate palladium complexes were used to demonstrate the success of our approach as they were found to be active for hours when encapsulated in micelles. Despite this long stability, the activity of the catalysts in micelles remains significantly lower than in organic solvent, suggesting some catalyst inhibition. The inhibition strength of the different chemicals present in the micelle were determined and compared. The combination of the small volume of the micelles, and the coordination of PEG appear to be the culprits for the low activity observed in micelles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number841
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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