Research Topic

Advanced Catalysts in Ring-Opening Polymerization of Cyclic Esters

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Petrochemical polymers such as polystyrene, polypropylene, polyethylene, and polyvinyl chloride are produced easily and cheaply, and have therefore been widely used for disposable packaging. However, because these petroleum-derived polymers require hundreds of years to degrade into innocuous soil manure, ...

Petrochemical polymers such as polystyrene, polypropylene, polyethylene, and polyvinyl chloride are produced easily and cheaply, and have therefore been widely used for disposable packaging. However, because these petroleum-derived polymers require hundreds of years to degrade into innocuous soil manure, polymer pollution has become a serious problem. In order to address this issue, the development of sustainable polymers, such as aliphatic polyesters, is an important area of research.

The most common method of polyester synthesis is ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of lactones (cyclic esters). A Lewis acid catalyst is typically needed to activate the carbonyl group of the lactone monomers. In terms of catalyst design, the choice of metal, ligand, and initiator are the three most important factors influencing catalytic activity and the properties of the polymers produced. The Lewis acidity and size of the metal cation influence the activity of the polymerization catalysts. Activity also is dependent on the electronic, steric, and chelating ligand properties. In addition, designing ligands that introduce steric barriers in order to prevent unproductive backbiting side reactions at the active catalyst is also of crucial importance to provide polymers of high molecular mass. Moreover, initiator property also influences the catalyst’s controllability of polymer molecular weight.

This Research Topic thus covers organometallic, coordination chemistry, and polymer science. Its purpose is to not only to understand the characteristics of catalysts in ring-opening polymerization, but also improve the use of catalysts that are more catalytically active in industrial manufacturing to produce biodegradable polymers and to reduce manufacturing costs, in order to fully replace the petrochemical plastics currently causing environmental pollution.

Potential themes for contributions may include, but are not limited to:

 a. Main group metal catalysts in ring-opening polymerization of cyclic esters
 b. Transition metal catalysts in ring-opening polymerization of cyclic esters
 c. Organic catalysts in ring-opening polymerization of cyclic esters


Keywords: Lactone, Lactide, Ring-Opening Polymerization, Sustainable polymer, Catalyst


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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