Poly(macrolactones) (PMLs) can be considered as biodegradable alternatives of polyethylene; however, controlling the ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of macrolactone (ML) monomers remains a challenge due to their low ring strain. To overcome this problem, phosphazene (t-BuP4), a strong superbase, has to be used as catalyst. Unfortunately, the one-pot sequential block copolymerization of MLs with small lactones (SLs) is impossible since the high basicity of t-BuP4 promotes both intra- and intermolecular transesterification reactions, thus leading to random copolymers. By using ROP and the “catalyst-switch” strategy [benzyl alcohol, t-BuP4/neutralization with diphenyl phosphate/(t-BuP2)], we were able to synthesize different well-defined PML-b-PSL block copolymers (MLs: dodecalactone, ω-pentadecalactone, and ω-hexadecalactone; SLs: δ-valerolactone and ε-caprolactone). The thermal properties and the phase behavior of these block copolymers were studied by differential scanning calorimetry and X-ray diffraction spectroscopy. This study shows that the thermal properties and phase behavior of PMLs-b-PSLs are largely influenced by the PMLs block if PMLs components constitute the majority of the block copolymers.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-02-19
Acknowledgements: Research was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).