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Author ORCID ID is 000000018379259X
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  1. In this study, the electromechanical response of Nafion films with and without an ionic liquid (1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide) ([emim]Tf 2N) additive were characterized under an applied electric field in situ using neutron reflectometry (NR) and voltage modulated atomic force microscopy (VM-AFM). NR showed that pure Nafion films exhibited no response under field strengths of ~0.18 V/μm, while VM-AFM measurements showed a minimal response at higher field strengths (~200 V/μm), which is ascribed to the residual water presence in the films. The addition of ionic liquid resulted in clear electroresponsiveness seen in both NR and VM-AFM. NR results indicated mass migration awaymore » from the cathodic interface driven by the [emim] + movement in the direction of the electric field. The lack of ionic liquid accumulation at the electrode interfaces contrasts the bulk electromechanical behavior of similar systems reported in the literature. VM-AFM measurements were able to resolve the relative contributions of the [emim] + cation and Tf 2N - anion to film deformation by alternating the direction of the applied field and support the [emim] + dominant migration seen in the NR results. Lastly, the findings presented here emphasize the need for the nanoscale analysis of material properties of electroresponsive thin film systems and demonstrate the potential for probing electric field effects using in situ techniques.« less
  2. A novel imidazolium–containing monomer, 1–[ω–methacryloyloxydecyl]–3–(n–butyl)–imidazolium (1BDIMA), was synthesized and polymerized using free radical and controlled free radical polymerization followed by post–polymerization ion exchange with bromide (Br), tetrafluoroborate (BF 4), hexafluorophosphate (PF 6), or bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (Tf 2N). The thermal properties and ionic conductivity of the polymers showed a strong dependence on the counter–ions and had glass transition temperatures ( T g) and ion conductivities at room temperature ranging from 10 °C to –42 °C and 2.09 × 10 –7 S cm –1 to 2.45 × 10 –5 S cm –1. In particular, PILs with Tf 2N counter–ions showed excellent ion conductivitymore » of 2.45 × 10 –5 S cm –1 at room temperature without additional ionic liquids (ILs) being added to the system, making them suitable for further study as electro–responsive materials. In addition to the counter–ions, solvent was found to have a significant effect on the reversible addition–fragmentation chain–transfer polymerization (RAFT) for 1BDIMA with different counter–ions. For example, 1BDIMATf2N would not polymerize in acetonitrile (MeCN) at 65 °C and only achieved low monomer conversion (< 5%) at 75 °C. However, 1BDIMA–Tf 2N proceeded to high conversion in dimethylformamide (DMF) at 65 °C and 1BDIMABr polymerized significantly faster in DMF compared to MeCN. NMR diffusometry was used to investigate the kinetic differences by probing the diffusion coefficients for each monomer and counter–ion in MeCN and DMF. Furthermore, these results indicate that the reaction rates are not diffusion limited, and point to a need for deeper understanding of the role electrostatics plays in the kinetics of free radical polymerizations.« less
  3. In this work, we use neutron reflectometry (NR) to investigate the roles of hydrogen in plasma treated hydrogen doped mesoporous black titania thin films in their visible light absorption and enhanced photoactivity for water oxidation. The cubic ordered mesoporous TiO 2 thin films are prepared by a surfactant-templated sol-gel method and are treated with hydrogen plasma, an approach hypothesized to capitalize on the high degree of disorder in the material and the high energy of the plasma species to achieve efficient hydrogen doping. UV-vis absorbance spectra indicate that H 2 plasma treatment makes TiO 2 films black, with broad-spectrum enhancementmore » of visible light absorption, and XPS analysis shows peak for Ti 3+ state in treated films. The presence of hydrogen in black mesoporous titania (H-TiO 2) films is confirmed by the scattering length density (SLD) profiles obtained from neutron reflectometry measurements. The H-TiO 2 shows ca. 28 times and 8 times higher photocurrent for photoelectrochemical water oxidation compared to undoped TiO 2 films under UV (365 nm) and blue (455 nm) LED irradiation, respectively. These findings provide the first direct evidence that the dramatic change in visible light absorbance of H-treated black TiO 2 is accompanied by significant hydrogen uptake and not just Ti 3+ generation or surface disordering.« less
  4. Here, the incorporation of hole conducting polymer poly(3-hexyl thiophene) (P3HT) into the 8-9 nm cylindrical nanopores of titania is investigated using films with a unique orthogonally oriented hexagonal close packed mesostructure. The films are synthesized using evaporation induced self-assembly (EISA) with Pluronic triblock copolymer F127 as the structure directing agent. The orthogonally oriented cylindrical nanopore structure was chosen over a cubic structure because confinement in uniform cylindrical channels is hypothesized to enhance hole conductivity of P3HT by inducing local polymer chain ordering. Orthogonal orientation of the cylindrical nanopores is achieved by modifying the substrate (FTO-coated glass slides) with crosslinked F127.more » After thermal treatment to remove organic templates from the films, P3HT is infiltrated into the nanopores by spin coating a 1 wt% P3HT solution in chlorobenzene onto the titania films followed by thermal annealing under vacuum at 200 °C. The results show that infiltration is essentially complete after 30 minutes of annealing, with little or no further infiltration thereafter. A final infiltration depth of ~14 nm is measured for P3HT into the nanopores of titania using neutron reflectometry measurements. Photoluminescence measurements demonstrate that charge transfer at the P3HT-TiO 2 interface improves as the P3HT is infiltrated into the pores, suggesting that an active organic-inorganic heterojuction is formed in the materials.« less

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