Ion transport and softening in a polymerized ionic liquid
by Rajeev Kumar, Vera Bocharova, Evgheni Strelcov, Alexander Tselev, Ivan I Kravchenko, Stefan Berdzinski, Veronika Strehmel, Olga S Ovchinnikova, Joseph A Minutolo, Joshua R Sangoro, Alexander L Agapov, Alexei P Sokolov, Sergei V Kalinin, Bobby G Sumpter
Polymerized ionic liquids (PolyILs) are promising materials for various solid state electronic applications such as dye-sensitized solar cells, lithium batteries, actuators, field-effect transistors, light emitting electrochemical cells, and electrochromic devices. However, fundamental understanding of interconnection between ionic transport and mechanical properties in PolyILs is far from complete. In this work, local charge transport and structural changes in films of a PolyIL are studied using an integrated experiment-theory based approach. Experimental data for the kinetics of charging and steady state current–voltage relations can be explained by taking into account the dissociation of ions under an applied electric field (known as the Wien effect). Onsager's theory of the Wien effect coupled with the Poisson–Nernst–Planck formalism for the charge transport is found to be in excellent agreement with the experimental results. The agreement between the theory and experiments allows us to predict structural properties of the PolyIL films. We have observed significant softening of the PolyIL films beyond certain threshold voltages and formation of holes under a scanning probe microscopy (SPM) tip, through which an electric field was applied. The observed softening is explained by the theory of depression in glass transition temperature resulting from enhanced dissociation of ions with an increase in applied electric field.