Phosphine-borane polymers are a class of chemical compounds used in lubricants, advanced ceramics and thermoplastics. Current methods for producing these polymers rely on high temperatures and produce non-uniform final products. The EU-funded TJIM (Dehydrocoupling of phosphine-boranes: Mechanistic studies, new catalysts, and the development of novel polyphosphinoboranes) initiative developed a new method for creating phosphine-borane monomers, oligomers and polymers. This involved using a cheap iron-based catalyst rather than the currently used rhodium-based catalyst. Not only does this lower the cost of the reaction, it also lowers the reaction temperature to 100 °C, leading to more uniform polymers. The researchers demonstrated the usefulness of the newly manufactured polymers by using them to create new microstructures. They also carefully described the mechanisms of the phosphine-borane dehydrocoupling (reaction loss of two hydrogen atoms) for the first time. TJIM has made a breakthrough in synthesising phosphine-borane polymers, making them both cheaper and easier to produce. This will mean cheaper and more sustainable industrial processes in the long term.
Phosphine-borane, polymers, dehydrocoupling, catalysts, reaction temperature, microstructures