Flexible, transparent and conductive polymer blend coatings were prepared from aqueous dispersions of poly(3,4-ethylenedixoythiophene)/poly(styrenesulfonate) [PEDOT/PSS] gel particles (∼80 nm) and latex (∼300 nm). The stable dispersions were deposited as wet coatings onto poly(ethylene terephthalate) substrates and dried at 80 °C. Microstructure studies using tapping mode atomic force microscopy (TMAFM) indicate that a network-like microstructure formed during drying at 0.03 volume fraction PEDOT/PSS loading. In this network-like structure, the PEDOT/PSS phase was forced into the boundary regions between latex. In addition, migration of the PEDOT/PSS particles towards coating surface is likely during drying of the aqueous dispersions. The addition of a small amount of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) in dispersions altered the distribution of the PEDOT/PSS phase. As PEDOT/PSS concentration increases to 0.15 volume fraction, the coating surface is dominated by the PEDOT/PSS phase. The effect of DMSO on microstructure becomes less apparent as PEDOT/PSS concentration increases. The conductivity of the polymer blend coatings increases in a percolation-like fashion with a threshold of ∼0.02 volume fraction PEDOT/PSS. The addition of DMSO in dispersions enhanced the coating conductivity beyond the threshold by more than two orders of magnitude. The highest conductivity, ∼3 S/cm, occurs at 0.20 volume fraction PEDOT/PSS concentration. The polymer blend coatings have good transparency with only a weak dependence of transparency on wavelength due to the small refractive index difference between filler and matrix.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the industrial supporters of the Coating Process Fundamentals Program of the Industrial Partnership in Interfacial and Materials Engineering (IPRIME) at the University of Minnesota for financial support, and Dr. Bhaskar Velamakanni for help with obtaining zeta potential data. J. Sun thanks Mr. Hong Wei and Ms. Lijun Zu for help with the transmittance spectra collection and Mr. Xun Yu for some stimulating discussions about conductivity improvement mechanisms.
- Electrical conductivity
- Optical transparency
- Polymer blend
- Transparent and conductive coatings