RAFT synthesis of ABA triblock copolymers as ionic liquid-containing electroactive membranes

Tianyu Wu, Dong Wang, Mingqiang Zhang, James R. Heflin, Robert B. Moore, Timothy E. Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


2-(Dimethylamino)ethyl acrylate (DMAEA) imparts versatile functionality to poly[Sty-b-(nBA-co-DMAEA)-b-Sty] ABA triblock copolymers. A controlled synthetic strategy minimized chain transfer reactions and enabled the preparation of high-molecular-weight ABA triblock copolymers with relatively narrow PDIs between 1.39 and 1.44 using reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization. The presence of tertiary amine functionality and their zwitterionic derivatives in the central blocks of the triblock copolymers afforded tunable polarity toward ionic liquids. Gravimetric measurements determined the swelling capacity of the triblock copolymers for ionic liquids (IL) 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium trifluoromethanesulfonate (EMIm TfO) and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium ethylsulfate (EMIm ES). A correlation of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) results revealed the impact of ionic liquid incorporation on the thermal transitions, thermomechanical properties, and morphologies of the triblock copolymers. IL-containing membranes of DMAEA-derived triblock copolymers and EMIm TfO exhibited desirable rubbery plateau moduli of ∼100 MPa and electromechanical actuation to a 4 V electrical stimulus. Maintaining the mechanical ductility of polymer matrices while increasing their ion-conductivity is paramount for future electroactive devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6552-6559
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 26 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • SAXS
  • acrylate
  • actuator
  • block copolymer
  • ionic liquid
  • membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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