Geminal poly(silyl ester)s: Highly labile degradable polymers Academic Article uri icon


  • Geminal silyl ester linkages were used for the backbone construction of linear polymers, which exhibit rapid cleavage in the presence of atmospheric water. A series of poly(gem-silyl ester)s with two ester groups flanking each silicon atom were synthesized, in order to probe the effects of different silyl-substituted side-chain groups upon the physical and chemical properties. The transsilylation condensation reaction of bis(trimethylsilyl) terephthalate with dichlorodiisopropylsilane, dichlorodicyclohexylsilane, dichloromethyl-n-octadecylsilane, and dichloromethyl-4-methylphenethylsilane gave the four poly(gem-silyl ester)s with two isopropyl, two cyclohexyl, one methyl plus one octadecyl, and one methyl plus one 4-methyl-phenethyl side-chain groups per silicon, respectively. The polymers were characterized by NMR (1H, 13C, and 29Si), infrared spectroscopy (IR), size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Hydrolytic degradation studies of the polymers solvated in tetrahydrofuran and as bulk samples in the solid state were performed in the presence of atmospheric water as the nucleophilic cleavage agent, and the molecular weight loss was monitored by SEC. Poly(diisopropylsilyl terephthalate) (1a) and poly(dicyclohexylsilyl terephthalate) (1b) were found to be more stable towards nucleophilic degradation in comparison to poly(methyl-n-octadecylsilyl terephthalate) (1c) and poly(methyl-4-methylphenethylsilyl terephthalate) (1d), due to the presence of sterically bulky isopropyl or cyclohexyl groups attached to the silicon atoms. All of the polymers degraded into small molecules upon hydrolysis, with the exception that the degradation products of 1c and 1d self-condensed in the solid state to form the respective polysiloxanes.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, M., Weinberg, J. M., & Wooley, K. L.

citation count

  • 18

publication date

  • September 1999