The Role of Nitrogen Donors in Zinc Catalysts for Lactide Ring-Opening Polymerization

The electronic effects of nitrogen donors in zinc catalysts for ring-opening polymerization of cyclic esters were investigated. Alkyl and benzyloxy zinc complexes supported by tridentate diamino- and aminoimino phenolate ligands were synthesized, and their solid-state and solution structures characterized. The solution-state structures showed that the alkyl complexes are mononuclear, while the alkoxy complexes are dimeric with the ligands coordinated with different denticities depending on the nature of the ligand donors. The catalytic activities of these compounds toward the ring-opening polymerization of racemic lactide were studied and showed that catalysts with secondary and imine nitrogen donors are more active than analogues with tertiary amines.