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Enhanced Ion Conductivity through Hydrated, Polyelectrolyte-Grafted Cellulose Nanocrystal Films

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journal contribution
posted on 19.07.2021, 15:35 authored by James H. Lettow, Richard Y. Kaplan, Paul F. Nealey, Stuart J. Rowan
Ionically conductive, hydrated polyelectrolyte nanocomposites are prepared from iodomethane-treated poly­(2-vinylpyridine) (mPV)-grafted cellulose nanocrystals (MxG-CNC-g-mPV). These polyelectrolyte-grafted nanoparticle (PEGN) films exhibit an order-of-magnitude higher iodide ion conductivity relative to mPV films and a high in-plane/through-plane anisotropy. The PEGN architecture prevents CNC aggregation, maximizing the CNC/polyelectrolyte interface. PEGN films were prepared with varying polymer graft density (0.03–0.12 chains/nm2) and molecular weight (7k–30k g/mol). The greatest ion conductivity enhancement is observed with lower molecular weight, higher density grafts: ca. 89 ± 6 mS/cm (140 ± 10 mS/cm accounting for the volume of the CNC) versus 3.3 ± 0.4 mS/cm for ungrafted mPV. Poly­(styrene-block-2-vinylpyridine)-grafted CNCs were prepared in which the insulating polystyrene block or the conducting mPV block was directly attached to the CNCs; only the films with the mPV block closest to the CNCs exhibited an enhancement in conductivity relative to mPV. Together, these data point to beneficial CNC/polyelectrolyte interfacial effects, resulting in significant ionic conductivity enhancement along the length of the CNCs in these films.

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