Poly(trimethylene carbonate-co-valerolactone) copolymers are materials with tailorable properties: from soft to thermoplastic elastomers†
Aliphatic poly(ester-carbonates) are receiving extensive research attention as tailorable materials suitable for multiple applications from tissue engineering and 3D scaffold printing to drug delivery. Thus, simple reliable procedures for producing easily tailorable poly(ester-carbonates) without metal residues are continuously sought after. In this work, we report on one-pot synthesis of random copolymers of TMC and δ-VL using metal-free biocompatible 1,5,7-triazabicyclo[4.4.0]dec-5-ene as a catalyst and benzyl alcohol and poly(ethylene oxide) as initiators. Random poly(ester-carbonates) with TMC : VL unit ratios ranging from 80 : 20 to 20 : 80 were synthesized via ring-opening polymerization while displaying excellent agreement of comonomers' ratios in the feed and copolymer chains. The copolymers' supramolecular structure, thermal and mechanical properties were thoroughly analyzed by various methods. The obtained results clearly indicated that the physicochemical properties can be controlled simply by varying the ratio of comonomers and the length of segments in the copolymer chain. Several copolymers exhibited behavior of thermoplastic elastomers with the most promising one exhibiting a 2200% increase in elongation at break compared to the poly(valerolactone) homopolymer while retaining tensile strength and Young's modulus suitable for biomedical applications. Overall, our work contributed to widening the portfolio of tailorable copolymers for specialized bioapplications and possibly paving a way for the use of more sustainable polymers in the biomedical field.