Applied Surface Science, Vol.493, 1306-1316, 2019
Side-chain effects on the properties of highly branched imidazolium-functionalized copolymer anion exchange membranes
A set of highly branched imidazolium-functionalized poly(arylene ether sulfone)s copolymer bearing with flexible alkyl side chains of different lengths are designed and synthesized. The ion exchange capacity (IEC), ionic conductivity, water uptake, thermal stability, mechanical property and alkaline resistance of the anion exchange membranes (AEMs) were evaluated in detail. Atomic force microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering are used to study morphology which reveals that the branched membrane with an alkyl side chain (6 carbons) achieves the highest conductivity (up to 115.8 mS cm(-1) at 80 degrees C) due to the well-developed hydrophilic/hydrophobic phase separation. In addition, the branched co-polymer AEM with a longer alkyl side chain (12 carbons) exhibit the best robust alkaline stability, it decreases only 27% of ionic conductivity after 550 h in 1 M KOH. Therefore, this study provides a comprehensive insight into the tuneable membrane properties of highly branched copolymers as a change in the length of flexible alkyl side chains.