skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, April 12 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, April 13 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Stereoregular functionalized polysaccharides via cationic ring-opening polymerization of biomass-derived levoglucosan
We report the facile synthesis and characterization of 1,6-α linked functional stereoregular polysaccharides from biomass-derived levoglucosan via cationic ring-opening polymerization (cROP). Levoglucosan is a bicyclic acetal with rich hydroxyl functionality, which can be synthetically modified to install a variety of pendant groups for tailored properties. We have employed biocompatible and recyclable metal triflate catalysts – scandium and bismuth triflate – for green cROP of levoglucosan derivatives, even at very low catalyst loadings of 0.5 mol%. Combined experimental and computational studies provided key kinetic, thermodynamic, and mechanistic insights into the cROP of these derivatives with metal triflates. Computational studies reveal that ring-opening of levoglucosan derivatives is preferred at the 1,6 anhydro linkage and cROP proceeds in a regio- and stereo-specific manner to form 1,6-α glycosidic linkages. DFT calculations also show that biocompatible metal triflates efficiently coordinate with levoglucosan derivatives as compared to the highly toxic PF 5 used previously. Post-polymerization modification of levoglucosan-based polysaccharides is readily performed via UV-initiated thiol–ene click reactions. The reported levoglucosan based polymers exhibit good thermal stability ( T d > 250 °C) and a wide glass transition temperature ( T g ) window (<−150 °C to 32 °C) that is accessible with thioglycerol and lauryl mercaptan pendant groups. This work demonstrates the utility of levoglucosan as a renewably-derived scaffold, enabling facile access to tailored polysaccharides that could be important in many applications ranging from sustainable materials to biologically active polymers.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Chemical Science
Page Range / eLocation ID:
4512 to 4522
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Simultaneous ring-opening copolymerization is a powerful strategy for the synthesis of highly functional copolymers from different types of cyclic monomers. Although copolymers are essential to the plastics industry, environmental concerns associated with current fossil-fuel-based synthetic polymers have led to an increasing interest in the use of renewable feedstock for polymer synthesis. Herein, we report a scalable synthetic platform to afford unique polysaccharides with different pendant functional groups from biomass-derived levoglucosan and ε-caprolactone via cationic ring-opening copolymerization (cROCOP). Biocompatible and recyclable bismuth triflate was identified as the optimal catalyst for cROCOP of levoglucosan. Copolymers from tribenzyl levoglucosan and ε-caprolactone, as well as from tribenzyl and triallyl levoglucosan, were successfully synthesized. The tribenzyl levoglucosan monomer composition ranged from 16% to 64% in the copolymers with ε-caprolactone and 22% to 79% in the copolymers with triallyl levoglucosan. The allylic levoglucosan copolymer can be utilized as a renewably derived scaffold to modify copolymer properties and create other polymer architectures via postpolymerization modification. Monomer reactivity ratios were determined to investigate the copolymer microstructure, indicating that levoglucosan-based copolymers have a gradient architecture. Additionally, we demonstrated that the copolymer glass transition temperature (Tg, ranging from −44.3 to 33.8 °C), thermal stability, and crystallization behavior could be tuned based on the copolymer composition. Overall, this work underscores the utility of levoglucosan as a bioderived feedstock for the development of functional sugar-based copolymers with applications ranging from sustainable materials to biomaterials. 
    more » « less
  2. Biomass-derived polymer materials are emerging as sustainable and low-carbon footprint alternatives to the current petroleum-based commodity plastics. In the past decade, the ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) technique has been widely used for the polymerization of cyclic olefin monomers derived from biorenewable resources, giving rise to a diverse set of biobased polymer materials. However, most synthetic biobased polymers made by ROMP are nondegradable because of their all-carbon backbones. Herein, we present a modular synthetic strategy to acid-degradable poly(enol ether)s via ring-opening metathesis copolymerization of biorenewable oxanorbornenes and 3,4-dihydropyran (DHP). 1H NMR analysis reveals that the percentage of DHP units in the resulting copolymers gradually increases as the feed ratio of DHP to oxanorbornene increases. The composition of the copolymers plays a pivotal role in governing their thermal properties. Thermogravimetric analysis shows that an increasing percentage of DHP results in a decrease in the decomposition temperatures, suggesting that the incorporation of enol ether groups in the polymer backbone reduces the thermal stability of the copolymers. Moreover, a wide range of glass transition temperatures (16–165 °C) can be achieved by tuning the copolymer composition and the oxanorbornene structure. Critically, all of the poly(enol ether)s developed in this study are degradable under mildly acidic conditions. A higher incorporation of DHP in the copolymer leads to enhanced degradability, as evidenced by smaller final degradation products. Altogether, this study provides a facile approach for synthesizing biorenewable and degradable polymer materials with highly tunable thermal properties desired for their potential industrial applications. 
    more » « less
  3. Cyclohexene oxide (CHO) is a useful building block for the synthesis of novel materials and is a model substrate for polymerization catalyst development. The driving force for CHO polymerization is derived from its bicyclic structure, which combines the release of the enthalpy from epoxide ring-opening (ca. −15 kcal/mol) and a twist-chair-to-chair conformation shift in the cyclohexane ring (ca. −5 kcal/mol) upon enchainment. The lack of regio-defined functional handles attached to the CHO monomer limits the ability to both pre- and post-functionalize the resultant materials and establish structure–property relationships, which reduces the versatility of currently accessible materials. We report the synthesis of two series of CHO derivatives with butyl, allyl, and halogen substituents in the α and β positions relative to the epoxide ring. Adding substituents to the CHO ring was found to affect polymerization kinetics, with 4-substituted (β) CHO being more reactive than 3-substituted (α) CHO analogs when initiated with a mono(μ-alkoxo)bis(alkylaluminum) pre-catalyst. Polymer thermal properties depended on substituent location and identity. Halogenated CHO rings were most reactive and produced the highest glass transition temperatures in the resultant polymers (up to 105 °C). Density functional theory revealed a possible mechanistic explanation consistent with the observed differences in polymerization rate for the 3- and 4-substituted CHOs derived from a combination of steric and thermodynamic considerations. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The potential applications of cationic poly(ionic liquids) range from medicine to energy storage, and the development of efficient synthetic strategies to target innovative cationic building blocks is an important goal. A post‐polymerization click reaction is reported that provides facile access to trisaminocyclopropenium (TAC) ion‐functionalized macromolecules of various architectures, which are the first class of polyelectrolytes that bear a formal charge on carbon. Quantitative conversions of polymers comprising pendant or main‐chain secondary amines were observed for an array of TAC derivatives in three hours using near equimolar quantities of cyclopropenium chlorides. The resulting TAC polymers are biocompatible and efficient transfection agents. This robust, efficient, and orthogonal click reaction of an ionic liquid, which we term ClickabIL, allows straightforward screening of polymeric TAC derivatives. This platform provides a modular route to synthesize and study various properties of novel TAC‐based polymers.

    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    This communication describes our recent efforts to utilize Wittig olefination reactions for the post-polymerization modification of polynorbornene derivatives prepared through ring opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP). Polymerizing α-bromo ester-containing norbornenes provides polymers that can undergo facile substitution with triphenylphosphine. The resulting polymeric phosphonium salt is then deprotonated to form an ylide that undergoes reaction with various aryl aldehydes in a one-pot fashion to yield the respective cinnamates. These materials can undergo further modification through photo-induced [2 + 2] cycloaddition cross-linking reactions. 
    more » « less