A series of well-defined mono-and dimeric Zn(ii)-complexes were prepared and fully characterised by X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy. Their application to the ROP of rac-LA to produce biocompatible atactic PLA was demonstrated in both solution and under industrially preferred melt conditions at 180 °C with a [rac-LA]:[Init]:[BnOH] of 3000:1:10. Exceptional activity was observed in all instances, albeit with generally poor molecular weight control (M n) and broad dispersities (), with dimers outperforming their monomeric counterparts. The propensity of all Zn(ii)-complexes to facilitate PLA degradation into methyl lactate (Me-LA) under mild conditions is also demonstrated. Zn(2-3) 2 were identified as the outstanding candidates, achieving full conversion to Me-LA within 8 h at 80 °C in THF. Further degradation kinetic analysis revealed Zn(2-3) 2 to have k app values of 0.63 ± 0.051 and 0.44 ± 0.029 h -1 for the rate of consumption of PLA respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2381-2389
JournalPolymer Chemistry
Issue number13
Early online date27 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry


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