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Feasibility of conducting semi-interpenetrating networks based on a poly(ethylene oxide) network and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) in actuator design



A new type of synthetic pathway—the use of interpenetrating polymer networks (IPNs)—is proposed to design conducting polymer-based actuators. Two types of materials with interesting conducting properties were prepared: (1) a semi-IPN between poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) and branched poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) network; (2) a tricomponent IPN between PEDOT and a PEO/polycarbonate (PC)–based network as the ionic conducting partner. In the first case, the influence of the amount of branching in the PEO network on the EDOT uptake and electrochemical properties was studied. A maximum conductivity (15 S cm−1) was obtained for 60 wt % branched PEO in the material. Moreover, the dispersion profile of PEDOT in the material was shown by elemental analysis and energy dispersion spectroscopy to follow a gradient through the thickness of the film leading to a built-in three-layered device. With respect to PEO/PC materials, the best results were obtained for about 80 wt % PEO in the matrix where the material remains sufficiently elastomeric. In this case, the conductivity reaches about 1 S cm−1 for a 10 to 30 wt % polycarbonate content. These materials are capable of reversible 45° angular deflections under a 0.5V potential difference. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 90: 3569–3577, 2003

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