Semi-Interpenetrating Polymer Networks for Enhanced Supercapacitor Electrodes

11 Sep 2017

Conducting polymers show great promise as supercapacitor materials due to their high theoretical specific capacitance, low cost, toughness, and flexibility. Poor ion mobility, however, can render active material more than a few tens of nanometers from the surface inaccessible for charge storage, limiting performance. Here, we use semi-interpenetrating networks (sIPNs) of a pseudocapacitive polymer in an ionically conductive polymer matrix to decrease ion diffusion length scales and make virtually all of the active material accessible for charge storage. Our freestanding poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)/poly(ethylene oxide) (PEDOT/PEO) sIPN films yield simultaneous improvements in three crucial elements of supercapacitor performance: specific capacitance (182 F/g, a 70% increase over that of neat PEDOT), cycling stability (97.5% capacitance retention after 3000 cycles), and flexibility (the electrodes bend to a <200 μm radius of curvature without breaking). Our simple and controllable sIPN fabrication process presents a framework to develop a range of polymer-based interpenetrated materials for high-performance energy storage technologies.