Properties of PTFE tape as a semipermeable membrane in fluorous reactions

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In a PTFE tape phase-vanishing reaction (PV-PTFE), a delivery tube sealed with PTFE tape is inserted into a vessel which contains the substrate. The reagent diffuses across the PTFE tape barrier into the reaction vessel. PTFE co-polymer films have been found to exhibit selective permeability towards organic compounds, which was affected by the presence of solvents. In this study, we attempted to establish general trends of permeability of PTFE tape to different compounds and to better describe the process of solvent transport in PV-PTFE bromination reactions. Though PTFE tape has been reported as impermeable to some compounds, such as dimethyl phthalate, solvent adsorption to the tape altered its permeability and allowed diffusion through channels of solvent within the PTFE tape. In this case, the solvent-filled pores of the PTFE tape are chemically more akin to the adsorbed solvent rather than to the PTFE fluorous structure. The solvent uptake effect, which was frequently observed in the course of PV-PTFE reactions, can be related to the surface tension of the solvent and the polarity of the solvent relative to the reagent. The lack of pores in bulk PTFE prevents solvents from altering its permeability and, therefore, bulk PTFE is impermeable to most solvents and reagents. However, bromine, which is soluble in liquid fluorous media, diffused through the bulk PTFE. A better understanding of the PTFE phase barrier will make it possible to further optimize the PV-PTFE reaction design.




Parsons, B. A., Smith, O. L., Chae, M., & Dragojlovic, V. (2015). Properties of PTFE tape as a semipermeable membrane in fluorous reactions. Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry, 11, 980–993.

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