The Quest for Converting Biorenewable Bifunctional α-Methylene-γ-butyrolactone into Degradable and Recyclable Polyester: Controlling Vinyl-Addition/Ring-Opening/Cross-Linking Pathways

Xiaoyan Tang, Miao Hong, Laura Falivene, Lucia Caporaso, Luigi Cavallo, Eugene Y.-X. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

α-Methylene-γ-butyrolactone (MBL), a naturally occurring and biomass-sourced bifunctional monomer, contains both a highly reactive exocyclic C═C bond and a highly stable five-membered γ-butyrolactone ring. Thus, all previous work led to exclusive vinyl-addition polymerization (VAP) product P(MBL)VAP. Now, this work reverses this conventional chemoselectivity to enable the first ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of MBL, thereby producing exclusively unsaturated polyester P(MBL)ROP with Mn up to 21.0 kg/mol. This elusive goal was achieved through uncovering the thermodynamic, catalytic, and processing conditions. A third reaction pathway has also been discovered, which is a crossover propagation between VAP and ROP processes, thus affording cross-linked polymer P(MBL)CLP. The formation of the three types of polymers, P(MBL)VAP, P(MBL)CLP, and P(MBL)ROP, can be readily controlled by adjusting the catalyst (La)/initiator (ROH) ratio, which is determined by the unique chemoselectivity of the La–X (X = OR, NR2, R) group. The resulting P(MBL)ROP is degradable and can be readily postfunctionalized into cross-linked or thiolated materials but, more remarkably, can also be fully recycled back to its monomer thermochemically. Computational studies provided the theoretical basis for, and a mechanistic understanding of, the three different polymerization processes and the origin of the chemoselectivity.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14326-14337
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Volume138
Issue number43
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 19 2016

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