Polymer electrolytes : synthesis and characterisation
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Crystalline polymer/salt complexes can conduct, in contrast to the view held for 30 years. The alpha-phase of the crystalline poly(ethylene oxide)₆:LiPF₆ is composed of tunnels formed from pairs of (CH₂-CH₂-O)ₓ chains, within which the Li⁺ ions reside and along which the latter migrate.¹ When a polydispersed polymer is used, the tunnels are composed of 2 strands, each built from a string of PEO chains of varying length. It has been suggested that the number and the arrangement of the chain ends within the tunnels affects the ionic conductivity.² Using polymers with uniform chain length is important if we are to understand the conduction mechanism since monodispersity results in the chain ends occurring at regular distances along the tunnels and imposes a coincidence of the chain ends between the two strands.² Since each Li⁺ is coordinated by 6 ether oxygens (3 oxygens from each of the two polymeric strands forming a tunnel), monodispersed PEOs with the number of ether oxygen being a multiple of 3 (NO = 3n) can form either “all-ideal” or “all-broken” coordination environments at the end of each tunnel, while for both NO = 3n-1 and NO = 3n+1 complexes, both “ideal” and “broken” coordinations must occur throughout the structure. A synthetic procedure has been developed and a series of 6 consecutive (increment of EO unit) monodispersed molecular weight PEOs have been synthesised. The synthesis involves one end protection of a high purity glycol, functionalisation of the other end, ether coupling reaction (Williamson’s type ether synthesis³), deprotection and reiteration of ether coupling. The parameters of the process and purification methods have been strictly controlled to ensure unprecedented level of monodispersity for all synthesised samples. Thus obtained high purity polymers have been used to study the influence of the individual chain length on the structure and conductivity of the crystalline complexes with LiPF₆. The results support the previously suggested model of the chain-ends arrangement in the crystalline complexes prepared with monodispersed PEO² over a range of consecutive chain lengths. The synthesised complexes constitute a series of test samples for establishing detailed mechanism of ionic conductivity. Such series of monodispersed crystalline complexes have been studied and characterised here (PXRD, DSC, AC impedance) for the first time. References: 1. G. S. MacGlashan, Y. G. Andreev, P. G. Bruce, Structure of the polymer electrolyte poly(ethylene oxide)₆:LiAsF₆. Nature, 1999, 398(6730): p. 792-794. 2. E. Staunton, Y. G. Andreev, P. G. Bruce, Factors influencing the conductivity of crystalline polymer electrolytes. Faraday Discussions, 2007, 134: p. 143-156. 3. A. Williamson, Theory of Aetherification. Philosophical Magazine, 1850, 37: p. 350-356.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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