N-Heterocyclic carbene iron complexes catalyze the ring-opening polymerization of lactide.

Nylund, Pamela V. S.; Monney, Baptiste; Weder, Christoph; Albrecht, Martin (2022). N-Heterocyclic carbene iron complexes catalyze the ring-opening polymerization of lactide. Catalysis science & technology, 12(3), pp. 996-1004. Royal Society of Chemistry 10.1039/d1cy02143e

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Poly(lactic acid), PLA, which holds great promise as a biodegradable substitute of fossil resource-derived polyolefins, is industrially produced by the ring-opening polymerization of lactide using a potentially harmful tin catalyst. Based on mechanistic insights into the reaction of N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) iron complexes with carbonyl substrates, we surmised and demonstrate here that such complexes are excellent catalysts for the bulk polymerization of lactide. We show that an iron complex with a triazolylidene NHC ligand is active at lactide/catalyst ratios of up to 10 000 : 1, produces polylactide with relatively high number-average molecular weights (up to 50 kg mol-1) and relatively narrow dispersity (Đ ∼ 1.6), and features an apparent polymerization rate constant k app of up to 8.5 × 10-3 s-1, which is more than an order of magnitude higher than that of the industrially used tin catalyst. Kinetic studies and end-group analyses support that the catalytically active species is well defined and that the polymerization proceeds via a coordination-insertion mechanism. The robustness of the catalyst allows technical grade lactide to be polymerized, thus offering ample potential for application on larger scale in an industrially relevant setting.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DCBP)
08 Faculty of Science > Other Institutions > Teaching Staff, Faculty of Science

UniBE Contributor:

Nylund, Pamela Viktoria Sofie and Albrecht, Martin

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 540 Chemistry

ISSN:

2044-4753

Publisher:

Royal Society of Chemistry

Language:

English

Submitter:

Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

01 Mar 2022 14:15

Last Modified:

01 Mar 2022 14:24

Publisher DOI:

10.1039/d1cy02143e

PubMed ID:

35222940

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/166215

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/166215

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