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Stereosequenced crystalline polyhydroxyalkanoates from diastereomeric monomer mixtures

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Science  08 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6466, pp. 754-758
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax8466

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Toward less brittle degradable plastic

Bacteria produce a class of polyesters, termed polyhydroxyalkanoates, that are particularly appealing on account of how easily they undergo biodegradation. Unfortunately, these polymers also tend to be overly brittle for many applications. Tang et al. report that a molecular lanthanide catalyst can sequentially polymerize chiral and then achiral diastereomers to form polyhydroxyalkanoate varieties that are substantially more ductile. The catalyst selectively produces these copolymers directly from diastereomeric mixtures of monomers, obviating the need for a wasteful separation process ahead of time.

Science, this issue p. 754

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