Functionalized and Degradable Polyphthalaldehyde Derivatives

Polymers that depolymerize back to monomers can be repeatedly chemically recycled, thereby reducing their environmental impact. Polyphthalaldehyde is a metastable polymer that is rapidly and quantitatively depolymerized due to its low ceiling temperature. However, the effect of substitution on the physical and chemical properties of polyphthalaldehyde derivatives has not been systematically studied. In this work, we investigate the cationic polymerization of seven distinct o‑phthalaldehyde derivatives and demonstrate that judicious choice of substituents results in materials with a wide range of ceiling temperatures (from < –60 to 106 °C) and decomposition temperatures (109–196 °C). We anticipate that these new polymers and their derivatives will enable researchers to access degradable materials with tunable thermal, physical, and chemical properties.