Congrats to Yuechao and Mitch for their latest work on ROP of dioxolanones!
The paper builds on our previous work on the synthesis of poly(α-hydroxy acid)s where we found elimination of formaldehyde to be the favoured driving force. Here, the impact of a competing Tischchenko side reaction via the liberated formaldehyde was probed and found to lead to significant reductions in molecular weight. Polymerisation under dynamic vacuum reduces the tendency towards this side reaction through removal of formaldehyde, while use of a water jacketed reactor avoids loss of monomer. Crystalline poly(mandelic acid) was formed under these conditions, giving thermal properties competitive to that of polystyrene!