Novel carbazole phenoxy-based methacrylates to produce high-refractive index polymers

James E. McGrath*, Lenore Rasmussen, Albert R. Shultz, H. K. Shobha, M. Sankarapandian, Tom Glass, Timothy Edward Long, Anthony J. Pasquale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


A novel, high-refractive index homopolymer was produced by incorporating carbazole and phenol into the methacrylate monomer structure. The reaction of phenol with 9-(2,3-epoxypropyl)-carbazole, followed by the reaction of the carbazole phenoxy-based intermediate with methacryloyl chloride or methacrylic anhydride, and recrystallization from methanol, produced a good yield of highly pure carbazole phenoxy functionalized methacrylate monomer. Subsequent free radical polymerization or UV photopolymerization of the functionalized methacrylate monomer, in addition to copolymerizations with methyl methacrylate, provided for high-refractive index materials well suited for lightweight optical applications. Unlike N-vinyl carbazole, the novel carbazole phenoxy-based methacrylate readily copolymerized with methyl methacrylate. Statistical copolymers of carbazole based methacrylates with methyl methacrylate were produced by free radical solution polymerization in DMAC or by photopolymerization in DMF. The carbazole phenoxy-based methacrylate monomer was characterized for molecular weight using gel permeation chromatography (GPC), for melting point and glass transition temperature using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), for decomposition using thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), and for chemical composition by one- and two-dimensional 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and by elemental analysis. The AIBN initiated carbazole phenoxy-based methacrylate polymerization was followed using in situ FTIR, which showed the reaction to be complete within 40 min in DMAC at 90 °C. Refractive indices of the carbazole based methacrylate homopolymers and copolymers ranged from 1.52 to 1.63. PhotoDSC was used to determine the heat of polymerization (ΔHp) for the carbazole phenoxy-based methacrylate (ΔHp=-39.4 kJ/mol). The carbazole phenoxy-based methacrylate homopolymer had a surprisingly high onset of decomposition temperature (Tonset=316 °C). 13C NMR spectroscopy experiments and molecular modeling were used to explore the configuration of the polymerized carbazole phenoxy-based methacrylate. The lack of head-to-head linkages due to steric considerations reasonably explains the high thermal stability observed for the carbazole phenoxy-based methacrylate polymer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4042-4057
Number of pages16
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2006 May 17
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbazole functionalized methacrylate
  • Nuclear magnetic spectroscopy
  • Ultraviolet photo-differential scanning calorimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics


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