Polymers functionalized with azlactone (or oxazolone) functionality have become increasingly useful for the rapid and modular design of functional materials. Because azlactones can react via ring-opening reactions with a variety of different nucleophilic species (e.g., primary amines, hydroxyl groups, and thiol functionality), azlactone-functionalized materials can serve as convenient 'reactive' platforms for the post-synthesis or post-fabrication introduction of a broad range of chemical functionality to soluble polymers, insoluble supports, and surfaces/interfaces. The last decade has seen an increase in both the number and the variety of reports that exploit the properties and the reactivities of azlactone-functionalized polymers. Here, we highlight recent work from several different laboratories, including our own, toward the design and characterization of azlactone-functionalized polymers, with a particular emphasis on: (i) new synthetic approaches for the preparation of well-defined azlactone-functionalized polymers using living/controlled methods of polymerization, (ii) the design and modular synthesis of side-chain functionalized polymers and block copolymers via post-polymerization modification of azlactone-functionalized polymers, (iii) the development of reactive polymeric supports useful in the contexts of separations and catalysis, and (iv) methods for the fabrication of reactive thin films and other approaches to the immobilization of azlactone functionality on surfaces and interfaces. Examples discussed herein reveal a growing awareness of azlactone functionality as a useful tool for polymer chemists, and highlight several ways that the unique reactivity of these materials can both complement and provide useful alternatives to other reactive polymers currently used to design functional materials.
Buck, Maren E. and Lynn, David M., "Azlactone-Functionalized Polymers as Reactive Platforms for the Design of Advanced Materials: Progress in the Last Ten Years" (2012). Chemistry: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.