Sulfonic acid-bearing polymer brushes were grown on the inner walls of continuous flow glass microreactors and used in the acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of benzaldehyde dimethyl acetal as a test reaction. Randomly 1:1 mixed polymer brushes of poly-3-sulfopropyl methacrylate (PSPM) and poly-2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (PHEMA) showed a 6-fold increase of the TOF value compared to the solely PSPM-containing microreactor. This remarkable improvement is attributed to the cooperative stabilizing effect of proximal OH groups on the active sulfonic acid moieties within the brush architecture. In fact, the rational mixing of SPM with methyl methacrylate (MMA) as an OH-free comonomer caused a drop in the activity of the resulting catalytic platform. A 5-fold increase of the TON of the 1:1 PSPM–PHEMA versus the PSPM homopolymer brush systems additionally demonstrates the substantial increase in the stability of the mixed brushes catalytic platform, which could be continuously run over 7 days without significant loss of activity. The 1:1 PSPM–PHEMA mixed brush catalytic system also showed a good activity in the deprotection of 2-benzyl tetrahydropyranyl ether.
Ricciardi, R., Munirathinam, R., Huskens, J., & Verboom, W. (2014). Improved catalytic activity and stability using mixed sulfonic acid- and hydroxy-bearing polymer brushes in microreactors. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 6(12), 9386-9392. https://doi.org/10.1021/am5017717