A new dual ester-urethane melt condensation methodology for biological monomers-amino acids was developed to synthesize new classes of thermoplastic polymers under eco-friendly and solvent-free polymerization approach. Naturally abundant L-amino acids were converted into dual functional ester-urethane monomers by tailor-made synthetic approach. Direct polycondensation of these amino acid monomers with commercial diols under melt condition produced high molecular weight poly(ester-urethane)s. The occurrence of the dual ester-urethane process and the structure of the new poly(ester-urethane)s were confirmed by (1)H and (13)C NMR. The new dual ester-urethane condensation approach was demonstrated for variety of amino acids: glycine, β-alanine, L-alanine, L-leucine, L-valine, and L-phenylalanine. MALDI-TOF-MS end group analysis confirmed that the amino acid monomers were thermally stable under the melt polymerization condition. The mechanism of melt process and the kinetics of the polycondensation were studied by model reactions and it was found that the amino acid monomer was very special in the sense that their ester and urethane functionality could be selectively reacted by polymerization temperature or catalyst. The new polymers were self-organized as β-sheet in aqueous or organic solvents and their thermal properties such as glass transition temperature and crystallinity could be readily varied using different l-amino acid monomers or diols in the feed. Thus, the current investigation opens up new platform of research activates for making thermally stable and renewable engineering thermoplastics from natural resource amino acids.
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