Noncovalent Hydrogen Bonds Tune the Mechanical Properties of Phosphoester Polyethylene Mimics

Hisaschi T. Tee, Kaloian Koynov, Tobias Reichel, Frederik R. Wurm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Polyethylene mimics of semicrystalline polyphosphoesters (PPEs) with an adjustable amount of noncovalent cross-links were synthesized. Acyclic diene metathesis copolymerization of a phosphoric acid triester (M1) with a novel phosphoric acid diester monomer (M2) was achieved. PPEs with different co-monomer ratios and 0, 20, 40, and 100% of phosphodiester content were synthesized. The phosphodiester groups result in supramolecular interactions between the polymer chains, with the P–OH functionality as an H-bond donor and the P═O group as an H-bond acceptor. A library of unsaturated and saturated PPEs was prepared and analyzed in detail by NMR spectroscopy, size exclusion chromatography, differential scanning calorimetry, thermogravimetry, rheology, and stress–strain measurements. The introduction of the supramolecular cross-links into the aliphatic and hydrophobic PPEs showed a significant impact on the material properties: increased glass-transition and melting temperatures were observed and an increase in the storage modulus of the polymers was achieved. This specific combination of a flexible aliphatic backbone and a supramolecular H-bonding interaction between the chains was maximized in the homopolymer of the phosphodiester monomer, which featured additional properties, such as shape-memory properties, and polymer samples could be healed after cutting. The P–OH groups also showed a strong adhesion toward metal surfaces, which was used together with the shape-memory function in a model device that responds to a temperature stimulus with shape change. This systematic variation of phosphodiesters/phosphotriesters in polyethylene mimics further underlines the versatility of the phosphorus chemistry to build up complex macromolecular architectures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9324-9332
JournalACS Omega
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


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