Synthesis and Characterizations of Novel Polymer Electrolytes

Open Access
Chanthad, Chalathorn
Graduate Program:
Materials Science and Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 01, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Qing Wang, Dissertation Advisor
  • James Patrick Runt, Committee Member
  • Michael Anthony Hickner, Committee Member
  • Donghai Wang, Committee Member
  • Polymer electrolyte
  • Proton exchange membrane
  • Proton conductivity
  • Ionic liquid
  • ionic conductivity
  • Ion conductive membrane
Polymer electrolytes are an important component of many electrochemical devices. The ability to control the structures, properties, and functions of polymer electrolytes remains a key subject for the development of next generation functional polymers. Taking advantage of synthetic strategies is a promising approach to achieve the desired chemical structures, morphologies, thermal, mechanical, and electrochemical properties. Therefore, the major goal of this thesis is to develop synthetic methods for of novel proton exchange membranes and ion conductive membranes. In Chapter 2, new classes of fluorinated polymer- polysilsesquioxane nanocomposites have been designed and synthesized. The synthetic method employed includes radical polymerization using the functional benzoyl peroxide initiator for the telechelic fluorinated polymers with perfluorosulfonic acids in the side chains and a subsequent in-situ sol-gel condensation of the prepared triethoxylsilane-terminated fluorinated polymers with alkoxide precursors. The properties of the composite membranes have been studied as a function of the content and structure of the fillers. The proton conductivity of the prepared membranes increases steadily with the addition of small amounts of the polysilsesquioxane fillers. In particular, the sulfopropylated polysilsesquioxane based nanocomposites display proton conductivities greater than Nafion. This is attributed to the presence of pendant sulfonic acids in the fillers, which increases ion-exchange capacity and offers continuous proton transport channels between the fillers and the polymer matrix. The methanol permeability of the prepared membranes has also been examined. Lower methanol permeability and higher electrochemical selectivity than those of Nafion have been demonstrated in the polysilsesquioxane based nanocomposites. In Chapter 3, the synthesis of a new class of ionic liquid-containing triblock copolymers with fluoropolymer mid-block and imidazolium methacrylate end-blocks is described for the first time. The synthetic strategy involves the preparation of the telechelic fluoropolymers using a functional benzoyl peroxide initiator as the macro-chain transfer agent for subsequent RAFT polymerization of the imidazolium methacrylate monomer. As revealed in DSC, SAXS and dielectric relaxation spectroscopy (DRS) measurements, there was no microphase separation in the triblock copolymers, likely due to solubility of ionic liquid moieties in the fluoropolymer matrix. The anionic counterion has direct impact on the thermal properties, ionic conductivity and segmental dynamics of the polymers. The temperature dependence of the ionic conductivity is well described by the Vogel-Tamman-Fulcher model, suggesting that ion motion is closely coupled to segmental motion. In Chapter 4 and 5, new solid electrolytes for lithium cations have been synthesized by catalyzed hydrosilylation reaction involving hydrogen atoms of polysiloxane and polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) and double bonds of vinyl tris17-bromo-3,6,9,12,15-pentaoxaheptadecan-1-ol silane. The obtained structures are based on branched or dendritic with ionic liquid-ethylene oxide oligomer. High room temperature ionic conductivities have been obtained in the range of 10-4-10-5 can be regarded as solid electrolytes. This is attributed to the high concentration of ions from ionic liquid moieties in the tripodand molecule, high segmental mobility, and high ion dissociation from ethylene oxide spacers. The influence of anion structures and lithium salts and concentration has been investigated.