Polyisoprene is a collective name for polymers that are produced by polymerization of isoprene. In principle, four different isomers can form. Cis-1,4-polyisoprene, which is also called isoprene rubber, is a major ingredient of natural rubber. Trans-1,4-polyisoprene is a major ingredient of gutta-percha. Annual worldwide production of polyisoprene was 13,000 kilotonne in 2007.
The percentage of repeating units of polyisoprene comprising each type of polymer bond is dependent on the reaction mechanism.
Anionic chain polymerization, which is initiated by n-Butyllithium, produces cis-1,4-polyisoprene dominant polyisoprene. 90–92% of repeating units are cis-1,4-, 2–3% trans-1,4- and 6–7% 3,4-units.
Coordinative chain polymerization: With Ziegler–Natta catalyst TiCl4/Al(i-C4H9)3, more pure Cis-1,4-polyisoprene is formed. Natural rubber is more pure cis-1,4-polyisoprene. With Ziegler–Natta catalyst VCl3/Al(i-C4H9)3, trans-dominant polyisoprene is formed.
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- 1,2- and 3,4-rich polyisoprene synthesized by Mo(VI)-based catalyst with phosphorus ligand Polymer Science Series B September 2016, Volume 58, Issue 5, pp 495–502