Synthesis of Well-Defined Polylactide-Containing Block Copolymers and Their Stereocomplex Blends

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Polylactides (PLA) are thermoplastic materials known for their biodegradability and biocompatibility, and therefore mostly utilized in biomedical applications. PLA-containing block copolymers further expand their application to include commodity materials and even advanced nanoporous materials. This research part of the thesis focuses on the synthesis and characterization of PLA-containing block copolymers, as well as their corresponding stereocomplexes formed by mixing block copolymers containing PLLA and PDLA segments. This work is divided into three parts. First, by using “living” anionic polymerization of styrene (St) and 2-vinylpyridine (2VP) followed by subsequent ethylene-oxide (EO) termination, well-defined hydroxyl-terminated polystyrene (PS) and poly(2-vinylpyridine) (P2VP) were synthesized. The resulting homopolymers were characterized by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), and infrared (IR) spectroscopy. The molecular weights were determined by SEC to be 6,200 and 5,500 g.mol-1 for PS and P2VP, respectively. In the second part, the two homopolymers, PS-OH and P2VP-OH were used as the macroinitiators for the ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of D- and L-lactides (D/L-LA) to obtain PS-b-PDLA and P2VP-b-PLLA, respectively. The targeted molecular weights of PLA blocks were varied to be 5,000, 7,000, and 10,000 g.mol-1 In the final part, quantitative stereocomplex formation was achieved by mixing PS-b-PDLA and P2VP-b-PLLA having equimolar PLAs segments. The physical and chemical properties of the diblockcopolymers and their corresponding stereocomplex, as well as the influence of varying the molecular weights of PLA blocks, were investigated by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy.
Date of AwardNov 2021
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorNikos Hadjichristidis (Supervisor)


  • Anionic Polymerization
  • Ring-Opening Polymerization
  • Stereocomplex

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