Long-Chain Polyorthoesters as Degradable Polyethylene Mimics

Tobias Haider, Oleksandr Shyshov, Oksana Suraeva, Ingo Lieberwirth, Max von Delius, Frederik R. Wurm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


The persistence of commodity polymers makes the research for degradable alternatives with similar properties necessary. Degradable polyethylene mimics containing orthoester groups were synthesized by olefin metathesis polymerization for the first time. Ring-opening metathesis copolymerization (ROMP) of 1,5-cyclooctadiene with four different cyclic orthoester monomers gave linear copolymers with molecular weights up to 38000 g mol–1. Hydrogenation of such copolymers produced semicrystalline polyethylene-like materials, which were only soluble in hot organic solvents. The crystallinity and melting points of the materials were controlled by the orthoester content of the copolymers. The polymers crystallized similar to polyethylene, but the relatively bulky orthoester groups were expelled from the crystal lattice. The lamellar thickness of the crystals was dependent on the amount of the orthoester groups. In addition, the orthoester substituents influenced the hydrolysis rate of the polymers in solution. Additionally, we were able to prove that non-hydrogenated copolymers with a high orthoester content were biodegraded by microorganisms from activated sludge from a local sewage plant. In general, all copolymers hydrolyzed under ambient conditions over a period of several months. This study represents the first report of hydrolysis-labile and potentially biodegradable PE mimics based on orthoester linkages. These materials may find use in applications that require the relatively rapid release of cargo, e.g., in biomedicine or nanomaterials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2411-2420
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Long-Chain Polyorthoesters as Degradable Polyethylene Mimics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this