Chemistry International
Vol. 22, No.3, May 2000

2000, Vol. 22
No. 3 (May)
..Chemistry in Slovenia
..News from IUPAC
..Reports from Symposia
..New Projects
..New Books
..Letter to the Editor
..Reports from Commissions
..Provisional Recommendations
..Conference Announcements


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Chemistry International
Vol. 22, No. 3
May 2000

Reports from IUPAC-Sponsored Symposia


IUPAC International Symposium on Ionic Polymerization (IP’99)

19—23 July 1999
Kyoto, Japan

This symposium, held in the Kyoto International Conference Hall, was sponsored by the Chemical Society of Japan, the Society of Polymer Science of Japan, the Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry of Japan, and the Japan Chemical Innovation Institute, in addition to IUPAC.

Prof. Shohei Inoue (Science University, Tokyo) was the Honorary Chairman of the symposium. Prof. Shiro Kobayashi (Kyoto University) chaired the Organizing Committee, Prof. Mitsuo Sawamoto (Kyoto University) headed the Program Committee, and Prof. Yoshiki Chujo was Chairman of the Local Committee. The International Symposia on Ionic Polymerization have a long history. They were started in the late 1940s and early 1950s by Prof. David Pepper (Dublin, Ireland) and Prof. Peter Plesch (Keele, United Kingdom), who at that time dominated the field of cationic polymerization. Then, after the discovery of the processes of "living polymerization" by Prof. Michael Szwarc, founder and "father" of modern ionic polymerization, a series of more or less formal meetings was organized in the field of anionic polymerization.

Two decades later (in 1975), I organized the first IUPAC Symposium on Ring-Opening Polymerization. Finally, the concerted efforts of a group of scientists working on anionic, cationic, and ring-opening polymerization converted these separate meetings into a chain of symposia unifying all of the fields of ionic polymerization. The Kyoto Symposium was the third one (after Istanbul and Paris) of this new series. In attendance were more than 260 active participants, including an impressive number of younger Japanese scientists who presented high-quality lectures on the newest topics. In all, 34 invited lectures, 60 other lectures, and 61 posters were presented. Practically all of the important research centers in the field of ionic polymerization from all over the world were represented at this impressive meeting. Lectures comparing radical and ionic polymerizations (K. Matyjaszewski) and/or enzymatic processes (S. Kobayashi) were presented, as well as other lectures on radical processes that kinetically resemble living ionic polymerization (e.g., papers by A. Matsumoto, K. Muellen, Y. Okamoto, and others). Polymerization mechanisms, macromolecular syntheses, and properties of polymers prepared by ionic and radical polymerization were also presented.

Several presentations particularly sparked my imagination, although such a selection is invariably subjective. The work of a group of authors (Percec, Barboiu, Bera, Kim, Frechet, and Grubbs) whose efforts, described by Percec, were related to the synthesis of single macromolecules of highly sophisticated, complex architecture was achieved by polymerization of well-defined dendrimers. The lecture by Matyjaszewski (mentioned above) showed how to combine ionic and radical processes in the synthesis of block copolymers of well-defined structures. Rizzardo presented an important step forward in synthesis of macromolecules with well-defined backbones by using a novel effective chain transfer. The ingenious choice of the chain transfer agents in radical polymerization allowed preparation of a number of vinyl polymers with controlled molar masses, molar mass distribution, and end-groups. Finally, Sawamoto presented his own approach to radical polymerization mediated by transition metals. It is difficult and probably impossible to predict which of the many novel radical processes will finally emerge to be become practical and routine.

Of course, understanding of the kinetic features of the processes presented would not be possible without the accumulated knowledge from living anionic polymerization and other (e.g., ring-opening) processes where the temporarily deactivated (dormant) species coexist with instantaneously active ones in the same macromolecule over various periods of time. In already well-established areas of anionic polymerization, several speakers (Moreau, Vairon, and others) presented striking new achievements, such as copolymerization of two aldehydes to give a much lower equilibrium monomer concentration for both comonomers than in their respective homopolymerizations. This result could be expected but it was shown for the first time in the polymerization of aldehydes, and it opened up new, interesting synthetic possibilities for this vast class of monomers.

Several impressive lectures were given by seasoned scientists (Fontanille, Sigwalt, Goethals, Mueller, Higashimura, Deffieux, Zsuga, Charadame, Faust, Aida, Kubisa, Duda, and some others), all of whom have already been contributing to their fields for several decades. However, a group of excellent younger scientists (R. Gross, Y. Chujo, and others) appeared, bringing their own views to this well-explored field. Some participants took the opportunity to visit the Kansai Research Institute, Inc., located in Kyoto Research Park, where a large proportion of scientific activity is related to macromolecular chemistry and physics. Prof. Takeo Shimidzu, Executive Vice President of this Institute, was kind enough to describe personally the major areas of research for the IP’99 Symposium visitors. An interesting social program was also planned and carried out by the charming Miyo Kobayashi, wife of the symposium chairman.

Prof. Stanislaw Penczek
Titular Member, IUPAC Macromolecular Division (IV)
Committee Associate Member, IUPAC Commission on Macromolecular Nomenclature (IV.1)

Lódz, Poland


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