J Polym Sci Part A

Stannous(II) trifluoromethane sulfonate: A versatile catalyst for the controlled ring-opening polymerization of lactides: Formation of stereoregular surfaces from polylactide "brushes"

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A general method for the controlled synthesis of polylactide in solution and from solid supports is presented. The evaluation of stannous(II) trifluoromethane sulfonate [Sn(OTf)2] and scandium(III) trifluoromethane sulfonate [Sc(OCTf)3] as catalysts for the ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of L-, D-, and L,D-lactide is described as a route to polylactide using mild and highly selective conditions. These triflate catalysts must be used in conjunction with a nucleophilic compound such as an alcohol that is the actual initiating species via the active metal alkoxide species. Consistent with this process, 1H NMR analysis revealed that the α-chain-end bears the ester from the initiating alcohol, and upon hydrolysis of the active metal alkoxide chain end, a ω-hydroxyl chain end was clearly detected. Polymers of predictable molecular weights and narrow polydispersities were obtained in high yields in accordance with a controlled polymerization process. The addition of base either as a solvent or additive significantly enhanced the polymerization rate with minimal loss to the polymerization control. The ROP of lactide isomers from an initiator, HO(CH2CH2O)3(CH2)11SH, self-assembled onto a gold surface using Sn(OTf)2 produced polylactide brushes under living conditions and provides the opportunity to prepare stereoregular or chiral surfaces by polymerization of enantiomerically pure monomers.