An effective route for ring-opening copolymerization of β-butyrolactone (BBL) with ε-decalactone (ε-DL) is reported. Microstructures of the block copolymers characterized by 13C NMR spectroscopy revealed syndiotactic-enriched poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) blocks. Several di- and triblock copolymers (PDL-b-PHB and PDL-b-PHB-b-PDL, respectively) were successfully synthesized by sequential addition of the monomers using (salan)Y(III) complexes as catalysts. The results from MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry confirmed the presence of the copolymers. Moreover, thermal properties of the block copolymers were also investigated and showed that the microphase separation of PDL-b-PHB copolymers into PHB- and PDL-rich domains has an impact on the glass transition temperatures of both blocks.
Keywords: ring-opening copolymerization; tacticity; yttrium complex; β-butyrolactone; ε-decalactone.