Design and synthesis of redox-active polymers
Mixed-conducting polymers are conjugated polymers, specially designed to possess balanced ionic and electronic charge transport properties. This class of materials has attracted significant interest in bioelectronic and electrochemical applications since these polymers can be switched between the insulating and conductive states using electrochemical doping (charging). When designed accordingly, these electrodes made out of these polymers undergo volumetric charging on fast time scales, without the need for additives or binders.
We have identified these materials as an interesting class of materials for developing electrode materials electron transfer reactions. The materials designed in our group have functional groups that enable the binding of reactants to create high selectivity for electrochemical reactions. Our research vision is to employ these polymers as electrode materials for electrochemical synthesis and replace electrode materials relying on expensive and scarce rare-earth elements. Prior work from our group has shown that the chemical composition of the electrode dictates the reaction pathway and the chemical composition of the polymer strongly impacts the selectivity of the reaction. Next-generation polymers are therefore specially designed to bind reactants and form the products at low overpotential.
To identify polymers with high performance, we use computational chemistry to predict materials with appropriate physical properties to achieve high activity, selectivity, and stability. Once we have identified target structures, we synthesize these materials in our laboratory using state-of-the-art synthetic methods. Our group philosophy is that progress in materials discovery is strongly linked to the purity of the materials and the reproducibility of results. Therefore, we use advanced purification methods to purify the polymers, removing unwanted side products and metal traces from synthesis and studying the real performance of the redox-active polymer With this approach, we avoid the pitfalls of overestimating the performance of the polymers due to chemical side products or metal traces.