General route to design polymer molecular weight distributions through flow chemistry

Dylan J. Walsh, Devin A. Schinski, Robert A. Schneider, Damien Guironnet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The properties of a polymer are known to be intrinsically related to its molecular weight distribution (MWD); however, previous methodologies of MWD control do not use a design and result in arbitrary shaped MWDs. Here we report a precise design to synthesis protocol for producing a targeted MWD design with a simple to use, and chemistry agnostic computer-controlled tubular flow reactor. To support the development of this protocol, we constructed general reactor design rules by combining fluid mechanical principles, polymerization kinetics, and experiments. The ring opening polymerization of lactide, the anionic polymerization of styrene, and the ring opening metathesis polymerization are used as model polymerizations to develop the reactor design rules and synthesize MWD profiles. The derivation of a mathematical model enables the quantitative prediction of the experimental results, and this model provides a tool to explore the limits of any MWD design protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3094
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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