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Polymerisation Catalysis

The group is focussed on the design, synthesis and study of the behaviour of both new organic and inorganic compounds that can be applied in polymerization catalysis. Primarily our efforts in new catalyst design are focussed on molecules that can mediate ring-opening polymerization, targeting stereospecificity and functional group tolerance as well as providing opportunities to use renewable feedstocks. Our interests are also focussed on the application of highly selective organic and enzymatic catalyst species to mediate the polymerization of new and challenging monomer feedstocks, taking advantage of the selectivity, functional group tolerance and high activity that these species commonly display.

Recent Highlights:

Development of Amino-Oxazoline and Amino-Thiazoline Organic Catalysts for the Ring-Opening Polymerisation of Lactide (Chem. Eur. J., 2010, 16, 6099)

Here, the ring-opening polymerization of lactide is shown to be mediated by a range of novel amino-oxazoline and amino-thiazoline catalysts with outstanding control. Mechanistic studies provided insight into the interactions between the monmer, initiator and catalyst indicating that the polymerization operates by a general base/pseudo-anionic mechanism.

bmm_web_toc.gif  Synthesis and Organocatalytic Ring-Opening Polymerization of Cyclic Esters Derived from L-Malic Acid (Biomacromolecules, 2010, 11, 1930)
In this contribution we demonstrate that the use of teh binary organocatalyst system of 1-(3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)-3-cyclohexylthiourea and (-)-sparteine efficiently catalyses the ring-opening polymerisation of the 3-(S)-[(benzyloxycarbonyl)methyl]-1,4-dioxane-2,5-dione (BMD) in the absence of transesterification side reactions, despite the presence of side-chain esters. We also investigate the degradation behaviour of the hydrophilic poly(glycolic-co-malic acid)s (PGMAs) that result from hydrogenolysis of the benzyl ester side-chains.

We have published review articles in several areas related to our research, a summary of these articles can be found here.

Polymerisation Catalysis

Synthesis of Degradable Polymers from Sustainable Resources

Self-Assembly and Ordering of Degradable Polymers

Development of Novel Biomaterials