Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 63-84

First online:

A Literature Review of Poly(Lactic Acid)

  • Donald GarlottaAffiliated withPlant Polymer Research Unit, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, USDA-ARS

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A literature review is presented regarding the synthesis, and physicochemical, chemical, and mechanical properties of poly(lactic acid)(PLA). Poly(lactic acid) exists as a polymeric helix, with an orthorhombic unit cell. The tensile properties of PLA can vary widely, depending on whether or not it is annealed or oriented or what its degree of crystallinity is. Also discussed are the effects of processing on PLA. Crystallization and crystallization kinetics of PLA are also investigated. Solution and melt rheology of PLA is also discussed. Four different power-law equations and 14 different Mark–Houwink equations are presented for PLA. Nuclear magnetic resonance, UV–VIS, and FTIR spectroscopy of PLA are briefly discussed. Finally, research conducted on starch–PLA composites is introduced.

Poly(lactic acid) synthesis crystallization kinetics viscosity composites