Polymer and Materials Science
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Enzyme-catalyzed preparation of polymers offers several potentially valuable advantages over the usual polymerization procedures. (1) Such polymerizations may allow the polymer to retain functionality that would be destroyed under normal polymerization conditions. (2) The selectivity provided by enzyme catalysts may permit polymers, including optically active polymers, to be prepared that are either not accessible or accessible only with difficulty by other methods. (3) The characteristics of the enzyme and the mild polymerization conditions may permit formation of polymers having highly regular sizes and backbone structures. This report describes the first successful use of an enzyme-catalyzed polycondensation to prepare a chiral (AA-BB)x polyesters of more than a few repeat units. Polymerization of bis(2,2,2-trichloroethyl) alkanedioates (BB) with diols (AA) using the enzyme porcine pancreatic lipase (PPL) as a catalyst is detailed. The polycondensations were carried out at ambient temperature in anhydrous, low polarity organic solvents such as ether, THF, and methylene chloride. End group analysis by NMR provided Mn values of 1300-8200 daltons while GPC provided Mw values of 2800-14900 daltons for the polymers. Based on proton NMR spectra obtained during the polymerization, relatively rapid formation of an AA-BB “dimer” and an AA-BB-AA “trimer,” slower formation of a BB-AA-BB “trimer,” and subsequent condensation of these to give higher polymers are suggested to be components of the polymerization mechanism.
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