Conducting Redox Polymers for Electrical Energy Storage Backbone - Substituent Interactions in Quinone Polypyrrole Model Systems

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Organic electrical energy storage (EES) is a growing field of research that is expected to play an important role in the future, as the need for sustainable EES increases. Conducting redox polymers (CRPs), i.e. conducting polymers with incorporated redox active moieties e.g. as pendant groups (PGs), are proposed as a promising class of compounds for this purpose. Redox cycling of the PGs can be utilized for high charge storage capacity, while the conducting polymer backbone provides fast charge transport through the material. Some of the major challenges with small-molecule systems for EES could be solved by using CRPs, e.g. capacity fading due to dissolution of the active compound, and high resistance due to slow charge transport between molecules. The latter issue is often solved by adding large amounts of conducting additives to the active material, drastically lowering the specific capacity. In this project, CRPs are shown to be able to function in battery cells without any additives, making both high capacity and high power possible. Although several CRPs have been reported in the literature, very few detailed studies have been conducted on the electrochemical processes of the two systems (i.e. the conducting polymer backbone and the redox active PGs). An important factor to consider in CRP design is the possibility for interaction between the two redox systems, which could be either beneficial or detrimental to the function as EES material. In this thesis, CRP model systems composed of hydroquinone functionalized polypyrrole have been studied, and they exhibit separate redox reactions for the PGs and the backbone, overlapping in potential. Significant interaction between them was observed, as oxidation of the PGs has severe impact on the backbone: When the oxidized and hydrophobic p-benzoquinone PGs are formed, they pack and force the polymer backbone to twist, localizing the bipolarons, and decreasing the conductivity. This is accompanied by a contraction of the polymer film and expulsion of electrolyte. Overall, the interaction in these polymers is destructive for their EES function, and it could be eliminated by introduction of a long linker unit between the PGs and the backbone.