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Thermodynamics of block copolymers with and without salt

  • Author(s): Teran, AA
  • Balsara, NP
  • et al.

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Ion-containing block copolymers are of interest for applications such as electrolytes in rechargeable lithium batteries. The addition of salt to these materials is necessary to make them conductive; however, even small amounts of salt can have significant effects on the phase behavior of these materials and consequently on their ion-transport and mechanical properties. As a result, the effect of salt addition on block copolymer thermodynamics has been the subject of significant interest over the past decade. This feature article describes a comprehensive study of the thermodynamics of block copolymer/salt mixtures over a wide range of molecular weights, compositions, salt concentrations, and temperatures. The Flory-Huggins interaction parameter was determined by fitting small-angle X-ray scattering data of disordered systems to predictions based on the random phase approximation. Experiments on neat block copolymers revealed that the Flory-Huggins parameter is a strong function of chain length. Experiments on block copolymer/salt mixtures revealed a highly nonlinear dependence of the Flory-Huggins parameter on salt concentration. These findings are a significant departure from previous results and indicate the need for improved theories for describing thermodynamic interactions in neat and salt-containing block copolymers. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

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