Title

Synthesis of comb-like copolymers from renewable resources: Itaconic anhydride, stearyl methacrylate and lactic acid

Date of Completion

January 2009

Keywords

Chemistry, Polymer|Engineering, Chemical|Engineering, Materials Science

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

The synthesis and properties of comb-like copolymers and ionomers derived from renewable resources: itaconic anhydride (ITA), stearyl methacrylate (SM) and lactic acid (LA) are described. The copolymers based on ITA and SM (ITA-SM) were nearly random with a slight alternating tendency. The copolymers exhibited a nanophase-separated morphology, with the stearate side-chains forming a bilayer, semi-crystalline structure. The crystalline side-chains suppressed molecular motion of the main-chain, so that a glass transition temperature (Tg) was not resolved unless the ITA concentration was sufficiently high so that Tg > the melting point (Tm). The softening point and modulus of the copolymers increased with the increasing ITA concentration, but the thermal stability decreased. ^ The ITA moiety along the main chain of the copolymers was neutralized with metal acetates to produce Na-, Ca- and Zn- random ionomers with comb-like architectures. In general, the incorporation of the ionic groups increased the Tg and suppressed the crystallinity of the side-chain packing. Ionomers with high SM side-chain density had two competing driving forces for self-assembled nano-phase separation: ionic aggregation and side-chain crystalline packing. Upon neutralization, a morphological transition from semi-crystalline lamella to spherical ionic aggregation was observed by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) analysis and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Thermomechanical analysis revealed an increasing resistance to penetration deformation with an increasing degree of neutralization and an apparent rubbery plateau was observed above Tg. ^ A controlled transesterification of PLA in glassware was an effective way to prepare a methacrylate functionalized PLA macromonomer with controlled molecular weight, which was used to synthesize a variety of copolymers. The copolymerization of this functionalized PLA macromonomer with ITA totally suppressed the side-chain crystallinity for the PLA chain length range studied. An increase of Tg was observed for sufficiently high neutralization level. The kinetics of ionic aggregation in this ionomer was very slow, but annealing at elevated temperature helped to reach equilibrium of the microstructure. ^