Electron propagation within redox-active microdomains in thin films of ferrocene-containing diblock copolymers Article

Ghimire, G, Yi, Y, Derylo, MA et al. (2015). Electron propagation within redox-active microdomains in thin films of ferrocene-containing diblock copolymers . LANGMUIR, 31(44), 12307-12314. 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b02996

cited authors

  • Ghimire, G; Yi, Y; Derylo, MA; Baker, LA; Ito, T


  • This paper reports the electrochemical behavior of redox-active microdomains in thin films of ferrocene-containing diblock copolymers, polystyrene-block-poly(2-(acryloyloxy)ethyl ferrocenecarboxylate) (PS-b-PAEFc). PS-b-PAEFc with different PAEFc volume fractions (PS154-b-PAEFc51, PS154-b-PAEFc26, and PS154-b-PAEFc12, where the subscripts represent the polymerization degree of each block; fPAEFc = 0.47, 0.30, and 0.17, respectively) was synthesized by sequential atom transfer radical polymerization. PS-b-PAEFc films of controlled thicknesses (20-160 nm) were prepared on gold substrates via spin-coating and characterized by ellipsometry. Microdomains were observed via atomic force microscopy on the surfaces of PS154-b-PAEFc51 and PS154-b-PAEFc26 thin films but not on the surfaces of PS154-b-PAEFc12 thin films. Electrochemical behavior of films was assessed by cyclic voltammetry and chronocoulometry in acetonitrile solution. The redox potential of ferrocene moieties was similar (ca. + 0.29 V vs Fc+/Fc) regardless of fPAEFc and film thickness. For PS154-b-PAEFc51 and PS154-b-PAEFc26, thicker films afforded larger faradaic peak currents and exhibited diffusion-controlled voltammograms at faster sweep rates. PS154-b-PAEFc26 produced voltammograms less influenced by solvent-induced swelling than PS154-b-PAEFc51, reflecting the improved morphological stability of PAEFc microdomains by redox-inert PS frameworks. In contrast, PS154-b-PAEFc12 films yielded similar faradaic peak currents regardless of film thickness and exhibited voltammograms indicative of surface-confined species. These observations suggest that PS154-b-PAEFc51 and PS154-b-PAEFc26 films contain continuous PAEFc microdomains extending from the electrode to the surface, in contrast to the PS154-b-PAEFc12 films which contain isolated PAEFc microdomains buried within the PS matrix. Electron propagation took place only through PAEFc microdomains that could electrically communicate with the underlying electrode. Apparent diffusion coefficients within PAEFc microdomains were similar (≈ 2 × 10-11 cm2/s) for PS154-b-PAEFc51 and PS154-b-PAEFc26. The relatively low efficiency in electron propagation was attributable to ineffective electron self-exchange reaction within the PAEFc microdomains and/or limited counterion migration through the acetonitrile-swollen microdomains. These results provide guidance in design of redox-active metalloblock copolymers for various applications, which include electrocatalysis, electrochemical mediation in enzyme sensors, and redox-controlled molecular deposition.

publication date

  • November 10, 2015

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 12307

end page

  • 12314


  • 31


  • 44