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Journal of the American Chemical Society

Single-site beta-diiminate zinc catalysts for the ring-opening polymerization of beta-butyrolactone and beta-valerolactone to poly(3-hydroxyalkanoates).


PMID 12487599

Abstract

Polymerization of beta-butyrolactone (BBL) and beta-valerolactone (BVL) using the zinc alkoxide initiator (BDI-1)ZnO(i)()Pr [(BDI-1) = 2-((2,6-diisopropylphenyl)amido)-4-((2,6-diisopropylphenyl)imino)-2-pentene] proceeds very rapidly under mild conditions to produce poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) and poly(3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHV), respectively. For the monomer-to-initiator ratio 200:1, PHB number-average molecular weights (M(n)) are proportional to conversion throughout the reaction and polydispersity indices (PDIs) are narrow, consistent with a living polymerization. Higher monomer-to-initiator ratios can be used to achieve high molecular weight PHB (M(n) > 100 000). End-group analysis verifies that the polymerization of BBL follows a coordination-insertion mechanism, where complexes of the form (BDI-1)ZnOCH(Me)CH(2)CO(2)R are the active species. Variable temperature NMR experiments show that (BDI-1)ZnO(i)()Pr is monomeric in benzene-d(6) solution. In contrast, (BDI-2)ZnO(i)()Pr [(BDI-2) = 2-((2,6-diethylphenyl)amido)-4-((2,6-diethylphenyl)imino)-2-pentene] is a poor initiator at room temperature because it prefers to form a bis-mu-isopropoxide dimer in solution. According to kinetic studies, propagation by (BDI-1)ZnO(i)()Pr is first order in both monomer as well as (BDI-1)ZnO(i)()Pr concentration. These results lead us to propose a monometallic active species. Several results suggest that elimination side reactions are slowly catalyzed by zinc alkoxides, leading to degradation of the polymer.

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