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Title: Multifunctional Nanostructured Conductive Polymer Gels: Synthesis, Properties, and Applications

Conductive polymers have attracted significant interest over the past few decades because they synergize the advantageous features of conventional polymeric materials and organic conductors. With rationally designed nanostructures, conductive polymers can further exhibit exceptional mechanical, electrical, and optical properties because of their confined dimensions at the nanoscale level. Among various nanostructured conductive polymers, conductive polymer gels (CPGs) with synthetically tunable hierarchical 3D network structures show great potential for a wide range of applications, such as bioelectronics, and energy storage/conversion devices owing to their structural features. CPGs retain the properties of nanosized conductive polymers during the assembly of the nanobuilding blocks into a monolithic macroscopic structure while generating structure-derived features from the highly cross-linked network. In this Account, we review our recent progress on the synthesis, properties, and novel applications of dopant cross-linked CPGs. We first describe the synthetic strategies, in which molecules with multiple functional groups are adopted as cross-linkers to cross-link conductive polymer chains into a 3D molecular network. These cross-linking molecules also act as dopants to improve the electrical conductivity of the gel network. The microstructure and physical/chemical properties of CPGs can be tuned by controlling the synthetic conditions such as species of monomers and cross-linkers, reaction temperature,more » and solvents. By incorporating other functional polymers or particles into the CPG matrix, hybrid gels have been synthesized with tailored structures. These hybrid gel materials retain the functionalities from each component, as well as enable synergic effects to improve mechanical and electrical properties of CPGs. We then introduce the unique structure-derived properties of the CPGs. The network facilitates both electronic and ionic transport owing to the continuous pathways for electrons and hierarchical pores for ion diffusion. CPGs also provide high surface area and solvent compatibility, similar to natural gels. With these improved properties, CPGs have been explored to enable novel conceptual devices in diverse applications from smart electronics and ultrasensitive biosensors, to energy storage and conversion devices. CPGs have also been adopted for developing hybrid materials with multifunctionalities, such as stimuli responsiveness, self-healing properties, and super-repellency to liquid. With synthetically tunable physical/chemical properties, CPGs emerge as a unique material platform to develop novel multifunctional materials that have the potential to impact electronics, energy, and environmental technologies. Our hope is that this Account promotes further efforts toward synthetic control, fundamental investigation, and application exploration of CPGs.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. The Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (United States). Materials Science and Engineering Program and Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
  2. Nanjing Univ. (China). Collaborative Innovation Center of Advanced Microstructures and School of Electronic Science and Engineering
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Accounts of Chemical Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 50; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 0001-4842
American Chemical Society
Research Org:
The Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22); National Science Foundation (NSF); Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award; National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1425655