Ring-opening polymerization of cyclic polycarbonate oligomers, where monofunctional active sites act on difunctional monomers to produce an equilibrium distribution of rings and chains, leads to a "living polymer." Monte Carlo simulations [two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D)] of the effects of single [J. Chem. Phys. 115, 3895 (2001)] and multiple active sites [J. Chem. Phys. 116, 7724 (2002)] are extended here to trifunctional active sites that lead to branching. Low concentrations of trifunctional particles c(3) reduce the degree of polymerization significantly in 2D, and higher concentrations (up to 32%) lead to further large changes in the phase diagram. Gel formation is observed at high total density and sizable c(3) as a continuous transition similar to percolation. Polymer and gel are much more stable in 3D than in 2D, and both the total density and the value of c(3) required to produce high molecular weight aggregates are reduced significantly. The degree of polymerization in high-density 3D systems is increased by the addition of trifunctional monomers and reduced slightly at low densities and low c(3). The presence of branching makes equilibrium states more sensitive (in 2D and 3D) to changes in temperature T. The stabilities of polymer and gel are enhanced by increasing T, and-for sufficiently high values of c(3)-there is a reversible polymer-gel transformation at a density-dependent floor temperature. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics