Electrically conductive polymers – such as polyaniline – are vital for numerous advanced technologies, from lighting to, circuit boards, to ink-jet printing. Despite their importance, producing these polymers is difficult due to the complex and pricey synthesis process, particularly when it comes to the awkward solvents they are made with. In this case, the solvent’s job is to dissolve metal into the liquid, allowing the base of the material to be created.
A new approach to producing a valuable material
Thankfully, a team from the University of Tsukuba and collaborating partners have managed to create an innovative method that removes this hurdle. The novel technique allows for polyaniline to be created from various common solvents, hugely simplifying production and lowering manufacturing costs.
“Polyaniline is an extremely versatile polymer in routine and advanced technologies, but restrictions on which solvents can be used for synthesis have long hindered this versatility,” explains Professor Hiromasa Goto, senior author. “Our discovery of how to facilitate polymerization in diverse solvents will be useful in basic research and industrial applications.”
The technique simply adds one ingredient to the reaction mixture that hugely changes its efficiency: iodine. Adding just a small amount of this chemical allows for many common solvents to be used in the creation of polyaniline which requires a much lower temperature to efficiently dissolve the metal.
What are the applications of this innovation?
“A particularly exciting result is the ease of preparing industrially useful polymer alloys, such as blends with polystyrene or cellulose derivatives,” says Goto. “Electrically conductive paint, advanced rubber blends, and other materials are now straightforward to prepare, which we expect will facilitate product development in diverse fields.”
This work will help transform the world of electrically conductive polymers and make polyaniline more compatible with useful processing technologies, therefore, simplifying many components of modern electronics. The low-cost method also allows for the cheaper production of electronics, allowing for more accessibility and efficient production.
Source study: Polymer-Plastics Technology and Materials – Synthesis of polyaniline in organic solvents