Main-chain poly(phosphoester)s: History, syntheses, degradation, bio-and flame-retardant applications

Kristin N. Bauer, Hisaschi T. Tee, Maria M. Velencoso, Frederik R. Wurm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)


Nature on planet earth is dominated by poly(phosphoester)s (PPEs). They structure and determine life in the form of deoxy- and ribonucleic acid (DNA & RNA), and, as pyrophosphates, they store chemical energy in organisms. Polymer chemistry, however, is dominated by the non-degradable polyolefins and degradable polycarboxylic esters (PCEs) produced on a large scale today. Recent work has illustrated the potential of PPEs for future applications beyond flame-retardancy, the main application of PPEs today, and provided a coherent vision to implement this classic biopolymer in modern applications that demand biocompatibility and degradability as well as the possibility to adjust the properties to individual needs. This comprehensive review summarizes synthetic protocols to PPEs, their applications in biomedicine, e.g., as biodegradable drug carrier or in tissue engineering, and their flame retardant properties. We highlight recent developments that may make phosphorus-based polymers attractive materials for various future applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-122
Number of pages62
JournalProgress in polymer science
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegradable
  • Drug delivery
  • Flame-retardant
  • Phosphorus
  • Poly(phosphoester)
  • Polyphosphate


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