Harnessing the Chemical Diversity of the Natural Product Magnolol for the Synthesis of Renewable, Degradable Neolignan Thermosets with Tunable Thermomechanical Characteristics and Antioxidant Activity. Academic Article uri icon


  • Magnolol, a neolignan natural product with antioxidant properties, contains inherent, orthogonal, phenolic, and alkenyl reactive groups that were used in both direct thermoset synthesis, as well as the stepwise synthesis of a small library of monomers, followed by transformation into thermoset materials. Each monomer from the small library was prepared via a single step functionalization reaction of the phenolic groups of magnolol. Thermoset materials were realized through solvent-free, thiol-ene reactions, and the resulting cross-linked materials were each comprised of thioether and ester linkages, with one retaining the hydrophilic phenols from magnolol, another having the phenols protected as an acetonide, and two others incorporating the phenols into additional cross-linking sites via hydrolytically labile carbonates or stable ether linkages. With this diversity of chemical compositions and structures, the thermosets displayed a range of thermomechanical properties including glass transition temperatures, Tg, 29-52 C, onset of thermal degradation, Td, from about 290-360 C, and ultimate strength up to 50 MPa. These tunable materials were studied in their degradation and biological properties with the aim of exploiting the antioxidant properties of the natural product. Hydrolytic degradation occurred under basic conditions (pH = 11) in all thermosets, but with kinetics that were dependent upon their chemical structures and mechanical properties: 20% mass loss was observed at 5, 7, 27, and 40 weeks for the thermosets produced from magnolol directly, acetonide-protected magnolol, bis(allyl carbonate)-functionalized magnolol, and bis(allyl ether)-functionalized magnolol, respectively. Isolated degradation products and model compounds displayed antioxidant properties similar to magnolol, as determined by both UV-vis and in vitro reactive oxygen species (ROS) assays. As these magnolol-based thermosets were found to also allow for extended cell culture, these materials may serve as promising degradable biomaterials.

published proceedings

  • Biomacromolecules

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Wacker, K. T., Weems, A. C., Lim, S., Khan, S., Felder, S. E., Dove, A. P., & Wooley, K. L.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Wacker, Kevin T||Weems, Andrew C||Lim, Soon-Mi||Khan, Sarosh||Felder, Simcha E||Dove, Andrew P||Wooley, Karen L

publication date

  • January 2019