Synthesis of hyperbranched polyesters via the ring-opening alternating copolymerisation of epoxides with a cyclic anhydride having a carboxyl group†
Hyperbranched polyesters (HBPEs) are well-known interesting materials used in many fields. However, the known synthetic approaches for HBPEs lack versatility. Herein, we report a novel synthetic approach for an HBPE via ring-opening alternating copolymerisation (ROAC) using epoxides and trimellitic anhydride (TA) as the latent difunctional and trifunctional monomers, respectively. Caesium pivalate-catalysed ROACs of TA and excess epoxides were performed in the presence of an alcohol initiator at 80 °C in bulk. The obtained products, together with their linear counterparts (i.e., poly(phthalic anhydride-alt-epoxide)s), were characterised by NMR, viscometry, and light scattering. The results supported the successful synthesis of hyperbranched poly(TA-alt-epoxide)s. The versatility of the present HBPE synthesis was demonstrated by applying a range of alcohol initiators, such as typical diol and functional alcohols (e.g., poly(ethylene glycol) as a mono-alcohol or diol, and azido-/alkene-functionalised alcohols as another mono-alcohol), leading to HBPE-based block copolymers and functional HBPEs. Various epoxides, such as mono- and disubstituted alkylene oxides, glycidyl ether, and glycidyl amine, were found to be applicable in the present polymerisation system, which successfully produced HBPEs with different properties depending on the resulting backbone structure of the polymer.