Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

The development of conductive composite surfaces by a diffusion-limited in situ polymerization of pyrrole in sulfonated polystyrene ionomers

M. Cristina De Jesus
Robert Weiss, The University of Akron
Yuping Chen


Electrically conductive composite surfaces were prepared by a diffusion-controlled in situ polymerization of pyrrole in the surface layer of sulfonated polystyrene ionomer films. Premolded films of the ionomer sulfonic acid derivatives were sequentially immersed in aqueous solutions of pyrrole and FeCl3, and polymerization occurred only where both the monomer and the oxidant were present. The penetration of the polypyrrole (PPy) into the film was controlled by varying the immersion time in the monomer solution. The amount of PPy produced depended on the immersion time of the film in the monomer and the degree of sulfonation of the ionomer. Surface conductivities of 10−4-10−1 S/cm were achieved with PPy concentrations from 2 to 22 wt % and composite layers as thin as 15 μm. Intermolecular interactions occurred between PPy and the ionomer by proton transfer. Incorporation of PPy also increased the tensile strength of the ionomer film, significantly increased its modulus above Tg, and inhibited melt flow.