Electrochemical processing of polythiophene films with enhanced structural order
Santoso, Handoko Tirto
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Intrinsically conducting polymers (ICPs) with high mechanical strength and electrical conductivity are attractive for several applications spanning the fields of energy, defense, and transportation. Electrochemically processed polythiophene (PTh) films are a class of ICPs that have been demonstrated recently to possess electrical conductivities as high as 1,300 S/cm and be stronger than common types of processed aluminum foils. While these results are promising, the electrical conductivity of PTh is still low compared to metals and the effects of important process conditions such as electrode resistance, distance between working and counter electrodes, and thiophene concentration on the structure and physical properties of electrochemically processed PTh films must be investigated in detail. In this work, electrode resistance and inter-electrode distance were demonstrated to be inversely proportional to the charge efficiency for PTh film growth. A critical concentration of thiophene that produced films with the highest conductivity was also revealed. Anionic surfactants sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and sodium dodeclybenzene sulfonate (SDBS) were used, with and without a proton scavenger, in the Lewis acid boron trifluoride diethyl etherate (BFEE) electrolyte, which allows polymerization of thiophene at low oxidation potentials, to enhance the ordering and conjugation length of PTh through stabilization of the radical cation of thiophene via the dodecyl chain of the anionic surfactants. X-ray diffraction spectra revealed enhanced order and packing when surfactant was used during the processing of PTh films, and measured electrical conductivities were increased by as much as 300% because of the surfactant-mediated structural improvements. Necking behavior observed in tensile test of PTh films with anionic surfactant additives also suggests chain alignment and increased chain length.