Replacing petroleum-based plastics with alternatives that are degradable and synthesized from annually renewable feedstocks is a critical goal for the polymer industry. Achieving this goal requires the development of sustainable analogs to commodity plastics which have equivalent or superior properties (e.g. mechanical, thermal, optical etc.) compared to their petroleum-based counterparts. This work focuses on improving and modulating the properties of a specific sustainable polymer, poly(lactide) (PLA), by incorporating it into triblock and multiblock copolymer architectures. The multiblock copolymers in this work are synthesized directly from dihydroxy-terminated triblock copolymers by a simple step-growth approach: the triblock copolymer serves as a macromonomer and addition of stoichiometric quantities of either an acid chloride or diisocyanate results in a multiblock copolymer. This work shows that over wide range of compositions, PLA-based multiblock copolymers have superior mechanical properties compared to triblock copolymers with equivalent chemical compositions and morphologies. The connectivity of the blocks within the multiblock copolymers has other interesting consequences on properties. For example, when crystallizable poly(l-lactide)-based triblock and multiblock copolymers are investigated, it is found that the multiblock copolymers have much slower crystallization kinetics. Additionally, the total number of blocks connected together is found to eect the linear viscoelastic properties as well as the alignment of lamellar domains under uniaxial extension. Finally, the synthesis and characterization of pressure-sensitive adhesives based upon renewable PLA-containing triblock copolymers and a renewable tackifier is detailed. Together, the results give insight into the effect of chain architecture, composition, and morphology on the mechanical behavior, thermal properties, and rheological properties of PLA-based materials.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. February 2016. Major: Chemical Engineering. Advisor: Frank Bates. 1 computer file (PDF); xv, 197 pages.
Structure-Property Relationships in Poly(lactide)-based Triblock and Multiblock Copolymers.
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