Chemistry ; Thanatology
Kiesewetter, Matthew, K
monomer, polymer, melting point, ring-opening polymerization, materials properties
By definition, polymers consist of large molecules composed of small, repeating units called monomers. These monomers give characteristic material properties to polymers, whether they be the melting point, the folding character, or the inherent stability. Many of the objects we encounter on a daily basis are composed of polymers. These polymers may be synthetic, such as the plastic in disposable bags, or natural, like glycogen in the liver. Recent developments in biotechnology have used synthetic polymers in drug delivery, contact lenses, and even organ transplants. Polyesters, in particular, have been utilized pharmacologically due to their biodegradable properties. Understandably, not all polymers are the same, nor can the properties of a polymer be deduced from the molecular properties of the individual monomer. A quick literature review can give you the melting point of an individual monomer and that of a polymer of one hundred repeat units, but nothing in-between. At what length do polymers start to exhibit material properties rather than molecular properties? Can the initiators used during polymerization affect these material properties? If so, when do the differences in the initiator effects become negligible? Through organocatalytic ring-opening polymerization of polyesters of various lengths and subsequent characterization, this research aims to answer these three fundamental questions.