Melt block copolymerization of e-caprolactone and l-lactide

Peter J.A. in 't Veld, Esther M. Velner, Peter van de Witte, Jennie Hamhuis, Pieter J. Dijkstra, Jan Feijen

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AB block copolymers of ε-caprolactone and (L)-lactide could be prepared by ring-opening polymerization in the melt at 110°C using stannous octoate as a catalyst and ethanol as an initiator provided ε-caprolactone was polymerized first. Ethanol initiated the polymerization of ε-caprolactone producing a polymer with ε-caprolactone derived hydroxyl end groups which after addition of L-lactide in the second step of the polymerization initiated the ring-opening copolymerization of L-lactide. The number-average molecular weights of the poly(ε-caprolactone) blocks varied from 1.5 to 5.2 × 103, while those of the poly(L-lactide) blocks ranged from 17.4 to 49.7 × 103. The polydispersities of the block copolymers varied from 1.16 to 1.27. The number-average molecular weights of the polymers were controlled by the monomer/hydroxyl group ratio, and were independent on the monomer/stannous octoate ratio within the range of experimental conditions studied. When L-lactide was polymerized first, followed by copolymerization of ε-caprolactone, random copolymers were obtained. The formation of random copolymers was attributed to the occurrence of transesterification reactions. These side reactions were caused by the ε-caprolactone derived hydroxyl end groups generated during the copolymerization of ε-caprolactone with pre-polymers of L-lactide. The polymerization proceeds through an ester alcoholysis reaction mechanism, in which the stannous octoate activated ester groups of the monomers react with hydroxyl groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-226
JournalJournal of polymer science. Part A: Polymer chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Bock copolymers
  • e-caprolactone
  • Stannous octoate
  • L-lactide
  • Ring-opening polymerization


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