Date of Thesis


Thesis Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Brandon Vogel


The purpose of this thesis was to synthesize biodegradable polyesters from a wide array of functionalized ¿-hydroxy acids. The initial strategy was to use amido-functionalized ¿-hydroxy acids and 2-bromopropanoyl bromide to form amido-functionalized cyclic diesters. Then, the resulting cyclic diesters would be used in ring opening polymerization to create biodegradable polyesters. However, the spontaneous rapid degradation of the secondary amido-functionalized cyclic diester structure, as seen with 2-benzamido-hydroxyacetic acid, limited ring formation to tertiary amido-functionalized ¿-hydroxy acids. Also, the hydrophilic nature of most ¿-hydroxy acids allowed water into the crystal structure of the ¿-hydroxy acid. Then, when the ¿-hydroxy acid was used in ring forming reactions, the associated water deactivated reactive reagents and limited cyclic diester synthesis. These issues led to the synthesis of hydrophobic and tertiary amido- and imido-functionalized ¿-hydroxy acids, 2-phthalimido-2-hydroxyacetic acid and 2-(1-oxoisoindolin-2-yl) hydroxyacetic acid. The new ¿-hydroxy acids were used in two new polymerization techniques, melt polycondensation and solution polymerization, instead of ring open polymerization. Melt polycondensation and solution polymerization had shown previous success in forming oligomers of amido-functionalized ¿-hydroxy acids. Melt polycondensation was conducted by heating the monomer past its melting temperature under reduced pressure. The uncatalyzed melt polycondensation of 2-(1-oxoisoindolin-2-yl) hydroxyacetic acid created polyesters (¿ 960 g/mol). The scandium(III) trifluoromethanesulfonate enhanced melt polycondensation polymerization created slightly larger oligomers (¿ 1340 g/mol). However, 2-phthalimido-2-hydroxyacetic acid was not compatible with melt polycondensation because thermal degradation occurred. Thus, solution polymerization was conducted via Steglich esterification. Only oligomeric functionalized polyesters were formed (¿ 1060 g/mol). Future work should focus on optimization of the catalyst and the reaction conditions to obtain higher molecular weight polyesters. Also, 2-(1-oxoisoindolin-2-yl) hydroxyacetic acid should be utilized in the cyclic diester synthesis technique.