B. Zheng, T. Bai, X. Tao, H. Schlaad, J. Ling
Identifying the Hydrolysis of Carbonyl Sulfide as a Side Reaction Impeding the Polymerization of N-Substituted Glycine N-Thiocarboxyanhydride
Biomacromolecules 2018, 19, 4263
DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.8b01119
Polypeptoids are noticeable biological materials due to their versatile properties and various applications in drug delivery, surface modification, self-assembly, etc. N-Substituted glycine N-thiocarboxyanhydrides (NNTAs) are more stable monomers than the corresponding N-carboxyanhydrides (NNCAs) and enable one to prepare polypeptoids via ring-opening polymerization even in the presence of water. However, larger amounts of water (>10,000 ppm) cause inhibition of the polymerization. Herein, we discover that during polymerization hydrogen sulfide evolves from the hydrolysis of carbonyl sulfide, which is the byproduct of ring-opening reaction, and reacts with NNTA to produce cyclic oligopeptoids. The capture of N-ethylethanethioic acid as an intermediate product confirms the reaction mechanism together with density functional theory quantum computational results. By bubbling the polymerization solution with argon, the side reaction can be suppressed to allow the synthesis of polysarcosine with high molar mass (Mn = 11,200 g/mol, D = 1.25) even in the presence of ~10,000 ppm of water.
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