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Optimizing the monomer structure of polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane for ion transport in hybrid organic–inorganic block copolymers

  • Author(s): Gao, KW
  • Jiang, X
  • Hoffman, ZJ
  • Sethi, GK
  • Chakraborty, S
  • Villaluenga, I
  • Balsara, NP
  • et al.
Abstract

Poly(ethylene oxide)-b-polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (PEO–POSS) mixed with lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide salt is a nanostructured hybrid organic–inorganic block copolymer electrolyte that may enable lithium metal batteries. The synthesis and characteristics of three PEO–POSS block copolymer electrolytes which only differ by their POSS silica cage substituents (ethyl, isobutyl, and isooctyl) is reported. Changing the POSS monomer structure results in differences in both thermodynamics and ion transport. All three neat polymers exhibit lamellar morphologies. Adding salt results in the formation of a disordered window which closes and gives way to lamellae at higher salt concentrations. The width of disordered window decreases with increasing length of the POSS alkyl chain substituent from ethyl to isobutyl and is absent in the isooctyl sample. Rheological measurements demonstrate good mechanical rigidity when compared with similar all-organic block copolymers. While salt diffusion coefficient and current ratio are unaffected by substituent length, ionic conductivity increases as the length of the alkyl chain substituent decreases: the ethyl substituent is optimal for ion transport. This is surprising because conventional wisdom suggests that ion transport occurs primarily in the PEO-rich domains, that is, ion transport should be unaffected by substituent length after accounting for the minor change in conducting phase volume fraction. © 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part A: Polym. Chem. 2020 © 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci. 2020, 58, 363–371.

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