Synthetic polymers have become indispensable in modern life. However, the prevalent use of synthetic polymers has created major sustainability issues including petroleum resource depletion and overfilling of landfills. At the same time, antibiotic resistance and the spread of new viruses have driven a need for antimicrobial and antiviral materials. A sustainable way to make materials antibacterial or antiviral is to use essential oils. Eugenol is a commonly used essential oil for these purposes, but it has been found to cause tissue irritation on contact. When eugenol is covalently connected to the material, these effects of oil leaching can be avoided. By creating a poly(butylene succinate) based polymer containing eugenol, we made a potentially degradable polymer that could fulfill many uses. After a catalyst study, three different polymerization routes were investigated to obtain the target polymer. The obtained polymers are semi-crystalline and thermally stable up to 325°C. The addition of butylated hydroxytoluene in the reaction resulted in polymers with a higher degradation temperature. Even with low eugenol content, the polymers showed over 90% bacterial reduction and even moderate eugenol content produced a polymer that was semi-crystalline. Through characterization, we co-optimized antimicrobial and physical properties to develop a material for a variety of uses such as food or medical packaging and equipment.
Materials Science and Engineering (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Chemistry and Materials Science (COS)
Finster, Rebekah, "Sustainable Antibacterial and Antiviral Polyesters based on Succinic Acid, Mercaptosuccinic Acid, and Eugenol" (2022). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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Available for download on Thursday, June 22, 2023