Photodegradable polar-functionalized polyethylenes

Natl Sci Rev. 2023 Feb 16;10(7):nwad039. doi: 10.1093/nsr/nwad039. eCollection 2023 Jul.


The degradation of plastics has attracted much attention from the global community. Polyethylenes (PEs), as the most abundant synthetic plastics, are most frequently studied. PE is non-degradable and non-polar because of the sole presence of the pure hydrocarbon components. Concurrent incorporation of both in-chain cleavable and functional groups into the PE chain is an effective pathway to overcome the non-degradable and non-polar issue; however, the method for achieving this pathway remains elusive. Here, we report a strictly non-alternating (>99%) terpolymerization of ethylene with CO and fundamental polar monomers via a coordination-insertion mechanism using late transition metal catalysts, which effectively prevents the formation of undesired chelates originating from both co-monomers under a low CO concentration. High-molecular-weight linear PEs with both in-chain isolated keto (>99%) and main-chain functional groups are prepared. The incorporation of key low-content isolated keto groups makes PEs photodegradable while retaining their desirable bulk material properties, and the introduction of polar functional groups considerably improves their surface properties.

PMID:37600561 | PMC:PMC10434297 | DOI:10.1093/nsr/nwad039


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