Ionic Aggregate Structure in Ionomer Melts: Effect of Molecular Architecture on Aggregates and the Ionomer Peak

LM Hall and ME Seitz and KI Winey and KL Opper and KB Wagener and MJ Stevens and AL Frischknecht, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 134, 574-587 (2012).

DOI: 10.1021/ja209142b

We perform a comprehensive set of coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations of ionomer melts with varying polymer architectures and compare the results to experiments in order to understand ionic aggregation on a molecular level. The model ionomers contain periodically or randomly spaced charged beads, placed either within or pendant to the polymer backbone, with the counterions treated explicitly. The ionic aggregate structure was determined as a function of the spacing of charged beads and also depends on whether the charged beads are in the polymer backbone or pendant to the backbone. The low wavevector ionomer peak in the counterion scattering is observed for all systems, and it is sharpest for ionomers with periodically spaced pendant charged beads with a large spacing between charged beads. Changing to a random or a shorter spacing moves the peak to lower wavevector. We present new experimental X-ray scattering data on Na+-neutralized poly(ethylene-co-acrylic acid) ionomers that show the same two trends in the ionomer peak, for similarly structured ionomers. The order within and between aggregates, and how this relates to various models used to fit the ionomer peak, is quantified and discussed.

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