Thermoreversible Morphology and Conductivity of a Conjugated Polymer Network Embedded in Block Copolymer Self-Assemblies

Y Han and JMY Carrillo and Z Zhang and YC Li and KL Hong and BG Sumpter and M Ohl and MP Paranthaman and GS Smith and C Do, SMALL, 12, 4857-4864 (2016).

DOI: 10.1002/smll.201601342

Self-assembly of block copolymers provides numerous opportunities to create functional materials, utilizing self-assembled microdomains with a variety of morphology and periodic architectures as templates for functional nanofi llers. Here new progress is reported toward the fabrication of thermally responsive and electrically conductive polymeric self-assemblies made from a water-soluble poly(thiophene) derivative with short poly(ethylene oxide) side chains and Pluronic L62 block copolymer solution in water. The structural and electrical properties of conjugated polymer-embedded self-assembled architectures are investigated by combining small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering, coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, and impedance spectroscopy. The L62 solution template organizes the conjugated polymers by stably incorporating them into the hydrophilic domains thus inhibiting aggregation. The changing morphology of L62 during the micellarto-lamellar phase transition defines the embedded conjugated polymer network. As a result, the conductivity is strongly coupled to the structural change of the templating L62 phase and exhibits thermally reversible behavior with no signs of quenching of the conductivity at high temperature. This study shows promise for enabling more flexibility in processing and utilizing water-soluble conjugated polymers in aqueous solutions for self-assembly based fabrication of stimuli-responsive nanostructures and sensory materials.

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