UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Recent Advances in Thiophene Based Molecular Actuators Anquetil, Patrick A.; Yu, Hsiao-Hua; Madden, John D.; Swager, Timothy M.; Hunter, Ian W.


A new class of molecular actuators where bulk actuation mechanisms such as ion intercalation are enhanced by controllable single molecule conformational rearrangements offers great promise to exhibit large active strains at moderate stresses. Initial activation of poly(quarterthiophene) based molecular muscles, for example, show active strains in the order of 20%. Molecular rearrangements in these conjugated polymers are believed to be driven by the formation of pi-dimers (e.g. the tendency of pi orbitals to align due to Pauli"s exclusion principle) upon oxidation of the material creating thermodynamically stable molecular aggregates. Such thiophene based polymers, however, suffer from being brittle and difficult to handle. Polymer composites of the active polymer with a sulfated polymeric anion were therefore created and studied to increase the mechanical robustness of the films. This additional polyelectrolyte is a Sulfated Poly-Beta-Hydroxy Ether (S-PHE) designed to form a supporting elastic matrix for the new contractile compounds. Co-deposition of the polyanion with the conducting polymer material provides an elastic mechanical support to the relatively stiff conjugated polymer molecules, thus reducing film brittleness. The active properties of such poly(quarterthiophene)/S-PHE polymer actuator composites based on intrinsic molecular contractile units are presented and discussed. Copyright 2003 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.

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