Synthesis of polymers and copolymers of lactide through titanium initators

  • M.J. Martinez Velon

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The research described in this thesis explored the synthesis tlnd characteristltion of biocompatible and biodegradable polymers of lactide through non-toxic titanium alkoxide nitiators. The research objectives focused on the preparation of polylactides in both solvent and solventless media, to produce materials with a wide range of molecular weights. The polylactides were fully characterised using gel permeation chromatography and 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy. NMR spectroscopy was carried out in the study the reaction mechanisms. Kinetic studies of the ring opening polymerisation of lactide with titanium alkoxide initiators were also conducted using NMR spectroscopy.
The objectives of this research were also focused on the enhancement of the flexibility of the polymer chains by synthesising random and block copolymers of lactide and ε-caprolactone using Ti(0-i-Pr)4 as an initiator, This work involved extensive characterisalion of the synthesised copolymers using gel permeation chromatography and 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopic analysis. Kinetic studies of the ring opening polymerisation of ε-caplrolactone and of the copolymerisation of lactide and ε-caprolactone with Ti(O-i-Pr)4 as an initiator were also carried out.
The last section of this work involved the synthesis of block and star-shaped
copolymers of lactide and poly(ethylene glycol) [PEG]. The preparation of lactide/PEG block copolymers was carried out by ring opening polymerisation of L-Iactide using Ti(O-i-Pr)4 as an initiator and hydroxyl-terminated PEG's with different numbers of hydroxyl groups as co-initiators both in solution and solventless media. These all-in-one polymersations yielded the synthesis of both lactide homopolymer and lactide/PEG block copolymer. In order to selectively synthesise copolymers of lactide and PEG, the experiment was carried out in two steps. The first step consisted of the synthesis of a titanium macro-initiator by exchanging the iso-propoxide ligands by PEG with different numbers of hydroxyl groups. The second step involved the ring opening polymerisation of lactide using the titanium macrocatalyst that was prepared as an initiator. The polymerisations were carried out in a solventless media. The synthesis of lactide/PEG copolymers using polyethylene glycol with amino terminal groups was also discussed. Extensive characterisation of the lactide block copolymers and macroinitiators was carried out using techniques such as, gel permeation chromatography (GPC), NMR spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimeter (DeS).

Date of AwardDec 2007
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAllan J Amass (Supervisor)


  • polyactic acid
  • ring opening polymerisation
  • lactide
  • titanium alkoxides
  • copolymers of lactide
  • titanium macro-initiators

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