Hydrolytic stability of aliphatic poly(carbonate-urea-urethane)s: Influence of hydrocarbon chain length in soft segment


Poly(carbonate-urethane)s (PCUs) exhibit improved resistance to hydrolytic degradation and in vivo stress cracking compared to poly(ester-urethane)s and their degradation leads to lower inflammation of the surrounding tissues. Therefore, PCUs are promising implant materials and are considered for devices such as artificial heart or spine implants. In this work, the hydrolytic stability of different poly(carbonate-urethane–urea)s (PCUUs) was studied under variation of the length of hydrocarbon chain (6, 9, 10, and 12 methylene units) between the carbonate linkages in the precursors. PCUUs were synthesized from isophorone diisocyanate and oligo(alkylene carbonate) diols using the moisture-cure method. The changes of sample weight, thermal and mechanical properties, morphology, as well as the degradation products after immersion in a buffer solution (PBS, pH = 7.4) for up to 10 weeks at 37 °C were monitored and analyzed. In addition, mechanical properties after 20 weeks (in PBS, 37 °C) were investigated. The gel content was determined based on swelling experiments in chloroform. Based on the DSC analysis, slight increases of melting transitions of PCUUs were observed, which were attributed to structure reorganization related to annealing at 37 °C rather than to the degradation of the PCUU. Tensile strength after 20 weeks of all investigated samples remained in the range of 29–39 MPa, whereas the elongation at break εm decreased only slightly and remained in the range between 670 and 800%. Based on the characterization of degradation products after up to 10 weeks of immersion it was assessed that oligomers are mainly consisting of hard segments containing urea linkages, which could be assigned to hindered-urea dissociation mechanism. The investigations confirmed good resistance of PCUUs to hydrolysis. Only minor changes in the crystallinity, as well as thermal and mechanical properties were observed and depended on hydrocarbon chain length in soft segment of PCUUs.
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