Remarkable self-organization and unusual conductivity behavior in cellulose nanocrystal-PEDOT: PSS nanocomposites
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Aqueous suspensions of cellulose nanocrystals were blended with Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrene sulfonate) [PEDOT:PSS], and cast into thin films. The morphology, structure and electrical properties of the resulting nanocomposite thin films were thoroughly characterized. We found that the CNC–PEDOT:PSS blends self-organize into a layered vertical stack with a pitch of 100–200 nm while retaining a continuous percolation network for PEDOT. Atomic force microscopy, dynamic light scattering and multi-angle light scattering measurements confirmed the wrapping of polymer chains around the rod-like CNCs. The blended films exhibited improved molecular ordering of the PEDOT chains with concomitant improvement in the carrier mobility. The remarkable self-organization and enhanced structural order enabled the CNC–PEDOT:PSS blends to exhibit a high conductivity typical of PEDOT:PSS even when the content of the insulating CNCs in the nanocomposite was as high as 50 wt%.
This work was made possible by funding support from NSERC, Alberta Innovates, FPInnovations, CFI and NRC-NINT. We thank Dr. Wadood Hamad and his team at FPInnovations for constructive discussions and assistance with sample characterization. P. B. thanks MITACS Globalink while U.K.T. and A.M. thank Alberta Innovates for scholarship awards. Innotech Alberta is acknowledged for providing CNC samples.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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