From Glucose to Polymers: A Continuous Chemoenzymatic Process

Sampa Maiti, Saikat Manna, Nicholas Banahene, Lucynda Pham, Zhijie Liang, Jun Wang, Yi Xu, Reuben Bettinger, John Zientko, Aaron P. Esser-Kahn, Wenjun Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Efforts to synthesize degradable polymers from renewable resources are deterred by technical and economic challenges; especially, the conversion of natural building blocks into polymerizable monomers is inefficient, requiring multistep synthesis and chromatographic purification. Herein we report a chemoenzymatic process to address these challenges. An enzymatic reaction system was designed that allows for regioselective functional group transformation, efficiently converting glucose into a polymerizable monomer in quantitative yield, thus removing the need for chromatographic purification. With this key success, we further designed a continuous, three-step process, which enabled the synthesis of a sugar polymer, sugar poly(orthoester), directly from glucose in high yield (73 % from glucose). This work may provide a proof-of-concept in developing technically and economically viable approaches to address the many issues associated with current petroleum-based polymers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18943-18947
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 19 2020


  • chemoenzymatic processes
  • glucose
  • poly(orthoester)
  • polymer synthesis
  • sustainable chemistry


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