An Elastomeric Poly(Thiophene-EDOT) Composite with a Dynamically Variable Permeability Towards Organic and Water Vapors



An interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) material with controllable nanoporosity is developed for applications such as chemical protection. The IPN material is based on a conducting polymer backbone consisting of thiophene and 3,4 ethylenedioxythiophene (EDOT) repeat units–poly(thiophene-EDOT)–formed within a soft polyurethane support. The IPN demonstrates reversible, electrochemically switchable nanoporosity in the absence of standard liquid electrolyte, with the oxidized state being the open (high porosity) state and the reduced state being the closed (low porosity) state. The switching of the IPN between its oxidized (open) and reduced (closed) states is actuated using application of ±1.0 V. The variability in the IPN porosity, induced by the electrochemical switching, is revealed by large changes in water vapor diffusivity, as well as changes in the diffusivities of the chemical agent simulants chloroethyl ethyl sulfide (CEES) and methyl salicylate (MeS). The closed state of the IPN is able to decrease CEES diffusivity by ≈99% compared to expanded Teflon (ePTFE), while the open state allows high MVT rates comparable to ePTFE. The IPN's ability to allow high MVT under non-threat conditions (open state) and high protection from agents under threat conditions (closed state) is a unique and desirable characteristic of this novel IPN material.