Synthesis and Physical Properties of Thiol-Ene Networks Utilizing Plant-Derived Phenolic Acids
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2015 American Chemical Society. Elastomeric polymer films synthesized through thiol-ene chemistry, suitable in applications as coatings and adhesives due to their ease of preparation and superior physical properties, are traditionally derived from petroleum sources. Of recent interest is the exploration of sustainable alternatives for the precursors to these materials. Here, we report the synthesis of thiol-ene networks through the photoinitiated reaction between allylated plant-based phenolic acids (salicylic acid and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid) and a multifunctional thiol, followed by isothermal annealing. Plant-sourced phenolic acids offer many advantages as biorenewable monomers: their rigid aromatic rings are expected to provide mechanical strength to the resulting polymers and the presence of multiple hydroxyl and carboxyl groups leads to ease of functionalization. Both phenolic acids produced networks with high degrees of homogeneity and few defects, as evidenced by narrow glass transitions and consistency of their tensile behavior with the ideal elastomer model at low-to-moderate strains. The 4-hydroxybenzoic acid based network, which had a higher cross-link density, exhibited a higher glass transition temperature, modulus, tensile strength, and elongation at break as compared to the salicylic acid based network. This work develops fundamental relationships between the molecular structure of the phenolic acids and the physical properties of the resulting networks.