Polysaccharide-based Biodegradable Polymers, Synthesis and Characterization

Research mentor: Dr. Tsvetanka Filipova, Department of Chemistry and Applied Biological Sciences.

This lab focuses on the design, synthesis and characterization of novel biodegradable polymeric materials based on 1,4:3,6-dianhydro-D-glucitol (isosorbide) and 1,4:3,6-dianhydro-D-mannitol (isomannide) which are potentially available as high-purity commercial monomers for condensation polymerizations. Both isosorbide and isomannide are monomers of interest because they confer biodegradability and biocompatibility along with rigidity, stiffness and high-temperature resistance to polymers synthesized from them. Isosorbide and isomannide are available from D-glucose and D-mannose, respectively, by hydrogenation followed by acid-catalyzed intermolecular dehydration.

SD-RET Research Project: Teachers will have the opportunity in an efficient and compact timeframe to synthesize sugar-based biodegradable polymers. Molecular structures of polymers will be confirmed by spectroscopic methods including infrared and proton nuclear magnetic resonance methods. Teachers will have the unique experience of both synthesizing novel biodegradable polymers and of characterizing them using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) instruments to probe the thermal, chemical and crystalline nature of the synthesized polymers. The proposed research has two main goals: 1) to investigate the synthesis of biodegradable polymers with emphasis on identifying the polymerization difficulties encountered using isosorbide or isomannide monomer building blocks; and 2) to characterize the resulting polymers in terms of molecular structure, solubility, mechanical and thermal properties.

This synthetic project will enable the SD-RET RAs to:

  • design polymers employing unique combinations of different monomers to achieve desired end-use requirements for a variety of applications;
  • have experience in synthesis of novel sugar-based biodegradable polymers;
  • gain knowledge of analytical techniques commonly used in research and structure determination, as well as improve and develop their skills in scientific/technical writing, chemistry software familiarity and capabilities, and database searching skills;
  • become acquainted with thermal analysis using DSC, TGA, and WAXD instruments.
  • acquire fundamental chemical laboratory bench-scale techniques necessary for the synthesis, separation, isolation, and purification of organic compounds.
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South Dakota School
of Mines & Technology

Department of Mechanical
Engineering