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Mild polymerization methods for the synthesis of modular fluoropolymers


Fluorinated polymers are an essential class of soft materials spanning multiple industrial markets. Poly(tetrafluoroethylene), better known as Teflon, as well as other commercial fluoropolymers, are found throughout everyday life in the form of electrical insulation, weatherable paints and coatings, medical tubing, or even dental floss. Although being an essential class of materials, fluorinated polymers are finding increased scrutiny in media as one of the main sources of fluorinated surfactant pollution, commonly referred to as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). There are large concerns on the bioaccumulative and toxic nature of PFAS, but alternatives remain scarce due to their necessity in emulsion polymerization for molecular weight fluoropolymers. Furthermore, there are academic barriers towards the use of the tetrafluoroethylene monomer, a common component in commercial fluoropolymer derivatives, as it is highly explosive and toxic. These factors have slowed the development of novel fluorinated polymer scaffolds in academia. Throughout my graduate work, I have worked towards developing new methods to reach fluorinated polymers with modular backbones. In this dissertation, the synthesis of modular fluoropolymer scaffolds is optimized and applied towards an array of post-polymerization modifications to provide a library of novel fluorinated polymers.

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