inorganic and organometallic polymers || cyclo- and polyphosphazenes

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  • 3 Cyclo- and Polyphosphazenes

    3.1 Introduction

    In the last chapter we have seen that organic polymers could be preparedby a number of ways taking advantage of the rich functional group chemis-try of organic molecules. Unfortunately, it is not possible to extend thesemethodologies completely to inorganic polymers. As we will see in thisand the subsequent chapters different types of inorganic polymers requiredifferent synthetic strategies. One approach that is common to the prepara-tion of many inorganic polymers is ring-opening polymerization (ROP).This methodology relies on the choice of an appropriate inorganic ring thatcan be opened to a polymeric material. Obviously, in order for this strategyto succeed suitable inorganic rings have to be discovered and polymerized.In this Chapter we will deal with inorganic polymers known as polyphos-phazenes. These polymers contain alternate phosphorus and nitrogen at-oms in their backbone (Fig. 3.1).

    - fCH-CH 2 f n

    R ^Ps,

    - 4 N = P 4 - Rvi i i /R

    I " p ^ P

    Polyphosphazene An organic polymer containinga cyclophosphazene ringas a pendant group

    Fig. 3.1. Polyphosphazene and a cyclophosphazene containing polymer

    There are many other polymers that are related to the polyphosphazenefamily. Thus, there are polymers which are actually made up of an organicbackbone but contain a cyclophosphazene ring as a pendant group ap-pended in their side chain. Other polymers that are related to polyphos-phazenes are those that contain a third hetero atom in the backbone. Ex-amples of such polymers are shown in Fig. 3.2.

  • 3.2 Cyclophosphazenes 83

    R RI i

    N=CN=PN=P-I I IR R R

    R R II !

    - N = S N = P N = P - -I IR R R

    O R RII I I

    N = S N = P N = P =f I IR R R

    Fig. 3.2. Poly(heterophosphazene)s

    Polyphosphazenes have an intimate relationship with their cyclic coun-terparts. It is essential to obtain an understanding of the structure and reac-tivity of the cyclic derivatives in order to be able to extend this chemistryto the polymeric analogues. In this chapter, we will therefore, first discusscyclophosphazenes and then move on to polyphosphazenes. Other poly-mers related to the polyphosphazene family will be discussed in subse-quent chapters.

    3.2 Cyclophosphazenes

    Cyclophosphazenes are inorganic heterocyclic rings [1-10]. These areamong the oldest inorganic rings that have been studied. These were pre-pared by Liebig and Wohler as early as 1834. Stokes, an American chemisthad also studied these rings in some detail in the 1890's. However, furtherstudies of these intriguing compounds had to await the arrival of powerfulspectroscopic methods. The advent of multinuclear NMR and the routineuse of single crystal X-ray methods allowed a systematic study of these in-organic rings and consequently a wealth of information is now availablefor cyclophosphazenes. Currently the research interest in cyclophos-phazenes emanates from various reasons as will be seen in the present dis-cussion.

    Cyclophosphazenes are made up of a valence unsaturated skeleton con-taining the [N=PR2] repeat unit. The ring is composed of alternate phos-phorus and nitrogen atoms. Within these rings the phosphorus center ispentavalent and tetracoordinate, while the nitrogen is trivalent and di-coordinate. Thus, each phosphorus is connected to two adjacent ring nitro-gen atoms as well as two exocyclic substituents. In contrast, each nitrogenatom is attached to two adjacent phosphorus atoms. The nitrogen atomdoes not have any exocyclic substituents. The smallest ring that is possibleis a four-membered ring and higher rings with an increment of two atoms(phosphorus and nitrogen) are possible. Indeed, cyclophosphazenes form aregular and homologous series. The four-membered ring is not commonand stabilization of this ring is possible only by having sterically hinderedsubstituents on phosphorus as is found for [NP(Nz'Pr)2]2 [2] The mostcommon compounds are those that contain the six- and eight-membered

  • 84 3 Cyclo- and Polyphosphazenes

    rings. For the series [NPF2]n, compounds from n = 3 to 40 are known, al-though not all of them are structurally characterized [8]. The largest struc-turally characterized ring system is the 24-membered permethyl ring[NPMe2]i2- Representative examples of cyclophosphazenes are shown inFigs. 3.3-3.6. It follows from the examples shown in these figures, thatcyclophosphazenes containing exocyclic P-N, P-O, P-S, P-C, or even P-Mbonds are possible.

    F x F Brx








    P h C>>oCH3 PhO

    OPh MeHNs ^NHMe

    MeHN N ^ i"

    ^OPh MeHNX NNHMe MeS SMe

    Fig. 3.3. Some examples of cyclotriphosphazenes




    i-p/ NPr-/

    , p r

    I, X''-Pr

    MeP"Me N''

    V"Me "I

    N6 ^p '



    Me IMe

    N = p


    I Me

    //P\N Me


    Fig. 3.4. Four- and twentyfour-membered cyclophosphazenes

    Further it will be noticed that cyclophosphazenes may be homogene-ously (same substituents on all phosphorus centers) or heterogeneouslysubstituted (different substituents). The currently accepted system of no-menclature for these compounds is the one suggested by Shaw [6]. Thus,the six-membered rings are called cyclotriphosphazatrienes and the eight-membered rings are called cyclotetraphosphazatetraenes. The ene is to em-phasize the valence unsaturated nature of the cyclic skeleton. The number-ing scheme starts from nitrogen (the first nitrogen is numbered ' 1 ' , fol-

  • 3.2 Cyclophosphazenes 85

    lowed by the phosphorus which is numbered '2' and so on). Thus, N3P3C16is called 2,2,4,4,6,6-hexachlorocyclotriphosphazatriene. However, dealingwith full names often becomes difficult and in the literature on these com-pounds it is noticed that simpler ways are devised to address them.

    Cl Cl NMe, NMe, NHEt elI I I 2 I 2 1/ I


    ClPN=PCl Me2NPN=PNMe2 Cl P N = P C I

    Cl Cl NMe2 NMe2 Cl NHEt

    Fig. 3.5. Eight-membered cyclophosphazenes

    ooc / \ co

    Me2l\L SCI Fe-Fe fBuHN. vNHBu(V Cp/ \ ( NCp X

    C l ^ | SCI F f NF CWT iV^I

    Fig. 3.6. Mixed substituent-containing cyclophosphazenes

    Thus, it is much simpler to write the chemical formulas with suitableprefixes to indicate the regio- and stereodisposition of the substituents. Forexample, 2,4-ogem-d,5'-N3P3Cl4(NMe2)2 conveys the meaning that thetwo dimethylamino substituents are present on adjacent phosphorus atomsand are cis with respect to each other (Fig. 3.6). Even if one drops 'non-gem' from this prefix the structural information is adequately conveyed.Similarly, the compound 2,2-gem-N3P3Cl4(NHfBu)2 can also be written as2,2-N3P3Cl4(NH?Bu)2 or even simply called gem-N3P3Cl4(NH^Bu)2 (Fig.3.6). The trivial names of the compounds N3P3Cl6 and N4P4C18 are trimericchloride and tetrameric chloride, respectively.

    Most cyclophosphazenes are relatively stable and have good shelf lives.Some are sensitive to moisture. Even, the chlorocyclophosphazenes,N3P3C16 and N4P4C18 can be readily handled in open air (in a well-ventilated hood). Most persubstituted cyclophosphazenes have very lowdipole moments and this is reflected in their excellent solubility propertieseven in nonpolar organic solvents. Table 3.1 summarizes the melt-ing/boiling point data for some of the prominent members of the cyclo-phosphazene family.

  • 86 3 Cyclo- and Polyphosphazenes

    Table 3.1. Melting and boiling points of some cyclophosphazenes









    ibpTC^.1148 (50.9)192124

    5 (89.7)41.3.0 (120)104238386511186

    Although the ring size of the cyclophosphazenes varies considerably wewill be examining the six-membered rings and to a lesser extent the eight-membered rings. This is mostly because the chemistry of these rings ismuch better developed and understood than that of the larger sized ringsystems. In the following account we will concern ourselves with thepreparation, reactivity and structure of these compounds. Necessarily thisdescription will be brief. Detailed accounts are available in a number ofexcellent reviews and monographs [1-10].

    3.2.1 Preparation of Chlorocyclophosphazenes

    Chlorocyclophosphazenes are the most important members of the cyclo-phosphazene family. These serve as precursors and starting materials forthe preparation of a large variety of other cyclophosphazenes. As men-tioned before, the four-membered ring N2P2CI4 is not known.

    The traditional and the still widely used synthesis of chloro-cyclophosphazenes consists of the reaction of finely ground ammoniumchloride (the source of nitrogen) with phosphorus pentachloride (thesource of phosphorus) (see Eq. 3.1). This reaction is carried out in a highboiling chlorinated solvent such as symmetrical tetrachloroethane,C12CHCHC12 or chlorobenzene. This reaction is quite complex. Ammo-nium chloride is not soluble in these solvents, while phosphorus pentachlo-ride is. Thus, the overall reaction is heterogeneous in nature. A complexmixture of cyclic and linear products is formed in this reaction. Individualchlorocyclophosphazenes can be separated from each other by variousmeans.

  • 3.2 Cyclophosphazenes 87

    nPCI5 + nNH4CI - [NPCI 2 ] n (3.1)

    For example, the cyclic compounds are soluble in petroleum ether andcan be extracted into it. The linear polymers are not readily soluble and areleft behind. Extraction of the soluble petroleum portion with concentratedH2SO4 removes N3P3C16 because of its greater basicity. However, t


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