Light-Switchable and Self-Healable Polymer Electrolytes Based on Dynamic Diarylethene and Metal-Ion Coordination

TitleLight-Switchable and Self-Healable Polymer Electrolytes Based on Dynamic Diarylethene and Metal-Ion Coordination
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsNie, Hui, Nicole S. Schauser, Jeffrey L. Self, Tarnuma Tabassum, Saejin Oh, Zhishuai Geng, Seamus D. Jones, Manuel S. Zayas, Veronica G. Reynolds, Michael L. Chabinyc, Craig J. Hawker, Songi Han, Christopher M. Bates, Rachel A. Segalman, and Javier Read de Alaniz
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Date Published01/2021

Self-healing polymer electrolytes are reported with light-switchable conductivity based on dynamic N-donor ligand-containing diarylethene (DAE) and multivalent Ni2+ metal-ion coordination. Specifically, a polystyrene polymer grafted with poly(ethylene glycol-r-DAE)acrylate copolymer side chains was effectively cross-linked with nickel(II) bis(trifluoromethanesulfonimide) (Ni(TFSI)2) salts to form a dynamic network capable of self-healing with fast exchange kinetics under mild conditions. Furthermore, as a photoswitching compound, the DAE undergoes a reversible structural and electronic rearrangement that changes the binding strength of the DAE–Ni2+ complex under irradiation. This can be observed in the DAE-containing polymer electrolyte where irradiation with UV light triggers an increase in the resistance of solid films, which can be recovered with subsequent visible light irradiation. The increase in resistance under UV light irradiation indicates a decrease in ion mobility after photoswitching, which is consistent with the stronger binding strength of ring-closed DAE isomers with Ni2+. 1H–15N heteronuclear multiple-bond correlation nuclear magnetic resonance (HMBC NMR) spectroscopy, continuous wave electron paramagnetic resonance (cw EPR) spectroscopy, and density functional theory (DFT) calculations confirm the increase in binding strength between ring-closed DAE with metals. Rheological and in situ ion conductivity measurements show that these polymer electrolytes efficiently heal to recover their mechanical properties and ion conductivity after damage, illustrating potential applications in smart electronics.