Molecular Mobility, Morphology, and Ion Conduction in Ionomers for Electroactive Devices

Open Access
Tudryn, Gregory John
Graduate Program:
Materials Science and Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 21, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Ralph H Colby, Dissertation Advisor
  • James Patrick Runt, Committee Member
  • Michael Anthony Hickner, Committee Member
  • Scott Thomas Milner, Committee Member
  • Karen I Winey, Special Member
  • Ionomer
  • PEO
  • polymer physics
  • actuator
  • battery
  • dielectric spectroscopy
  • X-ray scattering
  • rheology
  • ionic liquid
  • counterion
A sequential study of ion-containing polymers capable of ion solvation with varied ion content, dielectric constant, and counterions is presented in this dissertation in order to compare ion transport properties in ionomers with various ionic interactions. Structure-property relationships in these ion containing polymers are defined using x-ray scattering, rheology and dielectric spectroscopy, enabling the quantification of ion transport dynamics. Poly(ethylene oxide), (PEO) based ionomers are investigated in order to probe the relation between ion conduction and segmental relaxation, and copolymers of PEO and Poly(tetramethylene oxide), (PTMO) further develop an understanding of the trade-off between ion solvation and segmental dynamics. Ionomers with ionic liquid counterions probe diffuse charge interactions and steric effects on ion transport, and incorporation of ionic liquids into ionomer membranes such as Nafion provides desirable thermal and ion conducting properties which extend the use of such membranes for electroactive devices. PEO ionomers exhibit a strong relation between ionic conductivity and segmental dynamics, providing insight that the glass transition temperature, Tg, dominates the ion conduction mechanism. Increasing temperature induces aggregation of ionic groups as evidenced by the static dielectric constant and X-ray scattering as a function of temperature, revealing the contribution of ionic dipoles in the measured dielectric constant. The trade-off between ion solvation and fast polymer segmental dynamics are quantified in copolymer ionomers of PEO and lower Tg PTMO. While conducting ion content remains nearly unchanged, conductivity is lowered upon incorporation of PTMO, because the vast majority of the PTMO microphase separates from the PEO-rich microdomain that remains continuous and contributes most of the ion conduction. Dielectric constants and X-ray scattering show consistent changes with temperature that suggest a cascading aggregation process in Na ionomers as ionic dipoles thermally randomize and lower the measured dielectric constant of the medium, leading to further aggregation. We observe amplified microphase-separation through ionic groups preferentially solvated by PEO chains, as seen in block copolymers with added salt. Even at 25%PEO / 75%PTMO the ionomers have VFT temperature dependence of conducting ion mobility, meaning that the 25% PEO/ion microphase is still continuous A model is developed to describe the frequency dependent storage and loss modulus and the delay in Rouse motion due to ion association lifetime, as functions of ion content and molecular weight for our low molecular weight ionomers. The ion rearrangement relaxation in dielectric spectroscopy is clearly the ion association lifetime that controls terminal dynamics in linear viscoelasticity, allowing a simple sticky Rouse model, using the most-probable distribution based on NMR Mn, to fully describe master curves of the frequency dependent storage and loss modulus. Using insight from ionic interaction strength, ionic liquids are used as counterions, effectively plasticizing the ionomers without added solvent. Ionic interactions were weakened with increasing counterion size, and with modification of cations using ether-oxygen, promoting self-solvation, which increases conducting ion density by an order of magnitude. Room temperature ionic liquids were subsequently used in combination with NafionĀ® membranes as electroactive substrates to correlate ion transport to morphology as a function of volume fraction of ionic liquid. This study illuminated the critical volume uptake of ionic liquid in Nafion, identifying percolation of ionic pathways and a significant increase in dielectric constant at low frequencies, indicating an increase in the number density of ions capable of polarizing at the electrode surface. Consequently, the fundamental information obtained about the structure-property relations of ionomers can be used to predict and design advanced ion-containing polymers to be used in battery membranes and a variety of electroactive devices, including actuators and electromechanical sensors.