Ionomer design for augmented charge transport in novel ionic polymer transducers

Andrew J. Duncan, Barbar J. Akle, Timothy E. Long, Donald J. Leo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Ionic polymer transducers are devices that display electromechanical transduction and are projected to have extensive applications as actuators and sensors. This study employs novel, highly branched sulfonated polysulfones (sBPS) as part of an investigation into the contribution of polymer topology to electromechanical transduction. Specifically, the ionomers are combined with an ionic liquid to determine the optimal ratio and method for maximizing ionic conductivity, where charge transport is essential to device performance. Two uptake methods are assessed for introduction of ionic liquid into the central ionomeric membrane. The effects of casting membranes in the presence of ionic liquid and swelling preformed membranes in ionic liquid on film stability and ionic conductivity are examined. Membranes cast from a solution of the ionomer and ionic liquid allow for direct targeting of the component ratio and a single-step process for membrane formation. Swelling conditions for preformed neat membranes combine time, temperature, and the presence of organic co-diluents to achieve the maximum stable uptake of ionic liquid. Comparison of optimal conditions for the various methods reveals that swelling with co-diluents achieves ionic conductivity of the imbibed membrane per uptake higher than the levels achieved with the casting process for highly sulfonated sBPS. However, for less sulfonated sBPS the casting process successfully produced membranes with ionic conductivities unreachable with the co-diluent process. Both methods will enable the production of high performance ionic polymer transducers constructed from novel sBPS ionomers and ionic liquids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104005
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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