Marcus W. Ott, Christian Dietz, Simon Trosien, Sabrina Mehlhase, Martin J. Bitsch, Maximilian Nau, Tobias Meckel, Andreas Geissler, Gregor Siegert, Jasmin Huong, Brigitte Hertel, Robert W. Stark, Markus Biesalski
August 25, 2020
To improve the reactivity of lignin for incorporation into high value polymers, the introduction of amines via Mannich reaction is a commonly used strategy. During this functionalization reaction, intra- as well as intermolecular lignin–lignin crosslinking occurs, which can vastly change the elastic properties of the lignin, and therefore, the properties of the resulting polymer. Therefore, the molecular structure of the amine that is used for such a lignin functionalization may be of great importance. However, the relationship between the molecular structure of the amine and the elastic properties of the lignin-based polymer that is generated thereof, has not been fully understood. Herein, this relationship was investigated in detail and it was observed that the molecular flexibility of the amines plays a predominant role: The use of more flexible amines results in an increase in elasticity and the use of less flexible amines yields more rigid resin material. In addition to the macroscopic 3-point bending flexural tests, the elastic modules of the resins were determined on the nanometer scale by using atomic force microscopy (AFM) in the PeakForce tapping modus. Thus, it could be demonstrated that the intrinsic elasticities of the lignin domains are the main reason for the observed tendency.