Aliphatic polyethers: Classical polymers for the 21st century

Rebecca Klein, Frederik R. Wurm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Polyethers - polymers with the structural element (R'-O-R)n in their backbone - are an old class of polymers which were already used at the time of the ancient Egyptians. However, still today these materials are highly important with applications in all areas of our life, reaching from the automotive and paper industry to cosmetics and biomedical applications. In this Review, different aliphatic polyethers like poly(epoxide)s, poly(oxetane)s, and poly(tetrahydrofuran) are discussed. Special emphasis is placed on the history, the polymerization techniques (industrially and in academia), the properties, the applications as well as recent developments of these materials. The history, polymerization, properties, and applications of different aliphatic polyethers such as poly(epoxide)s, poly(oxetane)s, and poly(tetrahydofuran) are described. The modular synthesis, thermal stability, and diversity of polyethers render these materials essential in our everyday life but also as interesting materials for various other applications. This Review summarizes the most important developments, new synthetic approaches, and the resulting applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1165
Number of pages19
JournalMacromolecular rapid communications
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • poly(ethylene glycol)
  • poly(glycerol)
  • poly(oxetane)
  • poly(tetrahydrofuran)
  • polyethers


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