Low-temperature processable polymers have attracted increasing interest as ecological materials because of their reduced energy consumption during processing and suitability for making composites with heat-sensitive biomolecules at ambient temperature. In the current study, low-temperature processable biodegradable block copolymers were synthesized by ring-opening polymerization of l-lactide (LLA) using polyphosphoester as a macroinitiator. The polymer films could be processed under a hydraulic pressure of 35 MPa. The block copolymer films swelled in water because the polyphosphoester block was partially hydrated. Interestingly, the swelling ratio of the films changed with temperature. The pressure-induced order-to-disorder transition of the block copolymers was characterized by small-angle X-ray scattering; a crystallinity reduction in the block copolymers was observed after application of pressure. The crystallinity of the block copolymers was recovered after removing the applied pressure. The Young's modulus of the block copolymer films increased as the LLA unit content increased. Moreover, the modulus did not change after multiple processing cycles and the recyclability of the block copolymers was also confirmed. Finally, polymer films with embedded proteinase K as a model protein were prepared. The activity of catalase loaded into the polymer films was evaluated after processing at different temperatures. The activity of catalase was preserved when the polymer films were processed at room temperature but was significantly reduced after high-temperature processing. The suitability of low-temperature processable biodegradable polymers for making biofunctional composites without reducing protein activity was clarified. These materials will be useful for biomedical and therapeutic applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry