Water-soluble poly(phosphonate)s via living ring-opening polymerization

Tobias Steinbach, Sandra Ritz, Frederik R. Wurm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


A small difference brings high control: In poly(phosphonate)s a stable carbon-phosphorus linkage attaches a side chain to a degradable poly(phosphoester)-backbone. A novel cyclic phosphonate monomer was developed to generate water-soluble aliphatic poly(ethylene methylphospho-nate)s. The monomer is accessible via a robust three-step protocol that can be easily scaled-up. Polymerization was initiated by a primary alcohol, mediated by 1,8-diazabicyclo[5.4.0]undec-7-ene (DBU) in less than 2 h at 0 C. The molecular weight distributions were monomodal and very narrow (below 1.1) in all cases and molecular weights up to about 20000 g/mol have been prepared, proving the living nature of this polymerization. The resulting polymers were characterized in detail via NMR spectroscopy, size exclusion chromatography, and differential scanning calorimetry. Also, the reaction kinetics have been evaluated for several monomer/initiator ratios and found to guarantee a living behavior in all cases superior to other poly(phosphate)s reported earlier. The polymers are all highly water-soluble without a lower critical solution temperature and are nontoxic against HeLa cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-248
Number of pages5
JournalACS macro letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


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