Formation, Structure and Composition of Methylaluminoxane
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CitationLinnolahti M. Collins S. (2017). Formation, Structure and Composition of Methylaluminoxane. CHEMPHYSCHEM, [Epub ahead of print 27 Sept 2017], 10.1002/cphc.201700827.
The structurally ill-characterized methylaluminoxane (MAO) is the activator of choice in olefin polymerization catalysis. We have carried out large scale and systematic quantum chemical calculations to simulate the thermodynamics of its formation by controlled hydrolysis of trimethylaluminum (TMA), extending the studies up to 25 Al atoms, and thus, to the real size domain of MAO. In agreement with previous postulates on its structure, MAO is shown to favor cage-like structures, which commonly contain associated TMA, regardless of size or shape. The sites containing associated TMA are reactive, and explain the function of MAO as a catalyst activator. The compositions of MAOs show overall agreement with experiments, and exhibit structural transitions from chains to rings to sheets to eventually cages as a function of size. The most stable cage structure is obtained for a composition of (MeAlO)16(Me3Al)6, which is in precise agreement with mass spectrometric studies of corresponding anions, and adapts a tubular molecular structure with a molecular weight of 1360 g mol−1. Our mass spectrometric measurements enable detection of both major and minor anion species.