Investigating volume change and ion transport in conjugated polymers

Sammanfattning: Volume changes are the foundation for a wide range of phenomena and applications, ranging from the movement of plants to valves and drug delivery devices. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that controlled volume changes are an interesting topic of research. In this thesis, volume changes in polymers are the object of investigation. Polymers are a class of macromolecules that comprise of repetitive units. Owing to the wide variety of such units, polymers can exhibit manifold properties, including but not limited to strong water attraction and electrical conductivity. The former is the defining property in polymer hydrogels while the latter is core property of conducting polymers. Both the water attracting properties and conductivity are closely linked to transport events on a molecular level. In case of hydrogels, it is predominantly water uptake, while in case of conducting polymers it is a complex interplay between charges, ionic charge balancing entities and water. However, in either case the transport events lead to volume changes. Despite the similarities, the materials’ properties differ greatly. On the one hand volume changes in hydrogels are very large but hard to control. On the other hand, volume changes in conducting polymers are much smaller than in hydrogels, but the control is easier due to the electronic addressing.  P(gXTX) polymers combine a conducting polymer backbone with hydrogel sidechains. As described in publication 1, this combination of molecular entities was found to enabled unique properties of an electrically controllable giant volume change and concomitant solid-gel transition. In the second publication, the effect of the side chain lengths on the volume change properties of the polymers were explored. The knowledge acquired from these studies helped us to develop an electroactive filter based on p(gXTX) polymers which enabled electrochemical modulation of flow (publication 3). Aim of the fourth publication was to study the complex electronic -ionic transport processes and volume changes in a model conducting polymer, PEDOT:Tos.   The understanding of fundamental processes and properties of controllable volume changes may pave the way for advances in various applications, including electroactive meshes, actuators and drug delivery devices. 

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