Effect of sequence distribution on the morphology, crystallization, melting, and biodegradation of poly(epsilon-caprolactone-co-epsilon-caprolactam) copolymers
Michell, R.M., Muller, A.J., Castelletto, V., Hamley, I., Deshayes, G. and Dubois, P. (2009) Effect of sequence distribution on the morphology, crystallization, melting, and biodegradation of poly(epsilon-caprolactone-co-epsilon-caprolactam) copolymers. Macromolecules, 42 (17). pp. 6671-6681. ISSN 0024-9297
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1021/ma901169r
Two types of poly(epsilon-caprolactone (CLo)-co-poly(epsilon-caprolactam (CLa)) copolymers were prepared by catalyzed hydrolytic ring-opening polymerization. Both cyclic comonomers were added simultaneously in the reaction medium for the First type or materials where copolymers have a random distribution of counits, as evidenced by H-1 and C-13 NMR. For the second type of copolymers, the cyclic comonomers were added sequentially, yielding diblock poly(ester-amides). The materials were characterized by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), wide- and small-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS and SAXS), and transmission and scanning electron microscopies (TEM and SEM). Their biodegradation in compost was also studied. All copolymers were found to be miscible by the absence of structure in the melt. TEM revealed that all samples exhibited a crystalline lamellar morphology. DSC and WAXS showed that in a wide composition range (CLo contents from 6 to 55%) only the CLa units were capable of crystallization in the random copolymers. The block copolymer samples only experience a small reduction of crystallization and melting temperature with composition, and this was attributed to a dilution effect caused by the miscible noncrystalline CLo units. The comparison between block and random copolymers provided a unique opportunity to distinguish the dilution effect of the CLo units on the crystallization and melting of the polyamide phase from the chemical composition effect in the random copolymers case, where the CLa sequences are interrupted statistically by the CLo units, making the crystallization of the polyamide strongly composition dependent. Finally, the enzymatic degradation of the copolymers in composted soil indicate a synergistic behavior where much faster degradation was obtained for random copolymers witha CLo content larger than 30% than for neat PCL.