Investigating the influence of stereochemistry upon the properties of thermoplastic polymers

Stubbs, Connor (2022). Investigating the influence of stereochemistry upon the properties of thermoplastic polymers. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The diverse mechanical and thermal property requirements of modern society have largely been satisfied by polymer materials in the last century. Most materials are almost exclusively synthesized from crude oil derivatives and lack end of life degradation in reasonable time frames, leading to environmental pollution fears. The development of polymers to replace polyolefins will rely on sustainably derived feedstocks from nature. However, extensive study is still required to design degradable polymers from these biosourced derivatives that can mechanically compete with petrol-plastics.

Our historical focus on polyolefins revealed that control of the simplest stereo-centres offers extensive manipulation of bulk properties. Derivatives from nature are typically rich in stereochemistry and have unique 3D structures that can be exploited in polymer materials. The goal of this thesis was to understand how stereochemistry within the backbone of linear polymers can be leveraged to manipulate thermal and mechanical properties of synthetic thermoplastics.

Initially a platform to incorporate the desired stereo-center was developed based upon the thiol-ene “Click” reaction. Multiple types of stereoisomerism were incorporated into polyesters and polyurethanes at varying ratios that enabled the tuning of thermal and mechanical properties. Importantly, the presence of crystallinity within one stereoisomer vs the other led to the largest property change, but if both were amorphous or crystalline the manipulations were modest. These findings lay down the framework for predicting and designing better thermoplastics. However, a future focus into stereochemistry will be crucial to unlocking the full potential of bio-sourced derivatives.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Chemistry
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: Q Science > QD Chemistry


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