Conductive polymers provide a unique opportunity to combine traditional energetic materials with inexpensive components. The result is unparalleled processability wherein chemistries are tunable and morphologies can be manipulated, thus creating unique device architectures and applications. Traditional conductive materials utilize complex chemistries or expensive rare-earth components. In contrast, organic chemistry-based derivatives provide further flexibility and tunability, which is more expensive to attain using conventional materials. Specifically, for air cathode materials, many conventional conductive materials utilized for the conductive layer are expensive and lack tunable morphologies. Poly(3,4- ethylenedioxythiophene)-poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) is one such polymer which has attained interest as a unique conductive electrode, though very little in the way of morphological tunability has been attained. Finally, other approaches include the mixing and complexing of PEDOT:PSS with other substances. Additionally, the annealing of PEDOT:PSS at elevated temperature has been shown to enable the recrystallization of PEDOT-rich nanofibrils and chain rearrangement for both PEDOT and PSS, which, when combined with pore inducing techniques, results in porosity.
Technology Overview
In this invention, Northeastern researchers propose and idea in which PEDOT:PSS can be made to possess tunable porosity with or without crosslinking or annealing by employing multiple techniques that can achieve porosity within the PEDOT:PSS framework. Technique 1 employs phase separation using solvent-nonsolvent interactions to force porosity. Technique 2 employs sub-freezing crosslinking which includes room-temperature (sub-freezing for the solvent) crosslinking to generate porosity. Technique 3 employs nanoparticle loading (filler chemistry) which can then be melted, evaporated, or sublimated out of the end polymer network.
It establishes conventional PEDOT:PSS cathodes; the crosslinked version with DVS prevents the base PEDOT:PSS from disbursing in water. Additionally, the PEDOT:PSS can be directly loaded with catalyst, unlike other conventional air cathodes in which multiple layers of material are required. The proposed invention also provides a better means of applying the product to drive down manufacturing costs.
The primary use for this invention is to be the conductive layer in the air cathode of a microbial fuel cell. However, due to this novel deployment method of applying a conductive spray material, this can also be applied to a number of other applications, including solar cells, fibers, and conductive patches.
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Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Devyesh Rana
Steven Lustig
Air Cathode
Fuel Cell