Macromolecules, Vol.53, No.13, 5455-5464, 2020
Reversible Changes in the Grain Structure and Conductivity in a Block Copolymer Electrolyte
We study the phase behavior of a triblock organic-inorganic hybrid copolymer, poly(polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane)-b-poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane) (POSS-PEO-POSS)/lithium bis-(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI) salt mixture, as a function of temperature. The polymer exhibits a lamellar morphology both in the neat state and in the presence of salt. However, the average grain size increases substantially when the electrolyte is heated above 113 degrees C. The grain structure of this sample changes reversibly with temperature, that is, smaller grains reappear when the electrolyte is cooled below 113 degrees C. While annealing block copolymers at high temperatures often leads to an increase in the grain size, this change is generally irreversible. The reason for the reversible change in the grain structure of the POSS-PEO-POSS/LiTFSI electrolyte is discussed. The ionic conductivity of the electrolyte also exhibits reversible changes in this temperature window. Knowledge of the grain structure is crucial for understanding ion transport in nanostructured electrolytes.