Langmuir, Vol.35, No.5, 1526-1533, 2019
Specific Ion Effects in Polyampholyte Hydrogels Dialyzed in Aqueous Electrolytic Solutions
Polyampholyte hydrogels (PAHs) constitute a class of physical gels with cross-linking originating from inter- and intrachain ionic cross-linking between countercharged functional groups. In our previous report, we have shown that PAH has the potential to be a gel electrolyte in electrochemical energy storage devices. In this work, we further our understanding of charge-balanced PAH as a host material for gel electrolytes by studying the effect of dialysis on the mechanical properties and ionic conductivities of PAHs, whereas these properties are compared with those of poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA)-based gel electrolytes. Here, various electrolyte solutions were investigated as dialyzing agents. The ionic species in the electrolytes form ion pairs with countercharged functional groups in PAH, whereas such interactions govern the ionic conductivity and mechanical strength of PAH in various electrolytes. For anions, the trend in ionic interactions follows the Hofmeister series in an exact manner, whereas some anomaly is observed among cations. We anticipate that our study provides a design criterion for fabricating gel electrolytes. In a broader context, this work can shed light on understanding the behavior of PAHs in various operational environments, such as under physiological conditions and in antifouling coatings for biomedical and maritime applications, respectively.