Conducting polymers are typically represented by polyaniline, polypyrrole, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), and their substituted derivatives. They are easily prepared by the chemical oxidation or electrooxidation of respective monomers, but the chemistry of their origin is still of a challenge to polymer chemists. The conductivity at semiconductor level is exploited in flexible polymer electronics; the unique mixed electronic and ionic conductivity may be of interest in stimulation or monitoring of biological objects. Other properties, however, may be of even higher interest. Redox activity is the basis of the corrosion protection of metals, energy storage in batteries and supercapacitors, or in the deposition of noble metals on conducting polymers. The latter composites are used as electrocatalysts for fuel cells. The responsivity, an ability to respond by the change in electrical or optical properties to external stimuli, is another valued property of conducting polymers used in sensors. Their salt–base transition is similarly exploited in sensing but also in the control of surface properties of conducting polymers. The list may be extended to environmental issues, such as adsorption of various chemicals in water treatment or absorption of electromagnetic interference.
The morphology produced by conducting polymers at nanoscale is another unique feature. Depending on reaction conditions, conducting polymers are obtained as globular powders, nanotubes or nanofibers, thin films, colloidal dispersions, or hydrogels, and they participate in the variety of nanostructured composites. The latter group represents an array of functional materials that can be tuned for the use in the individual nanotechnologies. The morphology-retaining carbonization to nitrogen-containing carbons still extends the materials offer.
The topical issue of the Chemical Papers published 3 years ago in August 2013 was dedicated to the conducting polymers. It was well accepted by the scientific community, and the issue composed of 29 papers has received 228 citations by November 2016. The present follow-up collection of papers provides examples of chemistry and physics of conducting polymers and also illustration of their broad applicability. The readers will hopefully find some hints and guidance for future research and extension of fundamental science of conducting polymers to practical application.
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Stejskal, J., Bober, P. Trends in science and applications of conducting polymers: topical issue. Chem. Pap. 71, 177 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11696-016-0109-0