High-modulus, high-conductivity nanostructured polymer electrolyte membranes via polymerization-induced phase separation

Morgan W. Schulze, Lucas D. McIntosh, Marc A. Hillmyer, Timothy P. Lodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

271 Scopus citations


The primary challenge in solid-state polymer electrolyte membranes (PEMs) is to enhance properties, such as modulus, toughness, and high temperature stability, without sacrificing ionic conductivity. We report a remarkably facile one-pot synthetic strategy based on polymerization-induced phase separation (PIPS) to generate nanostructured PEMs that exhibit an unprecedented combination of high modulus and ionic conductivity. Simple heating of a poly(ethylene oxide) macromolecular chain transfer agent dissolved in a mixture of ionic liquid, styrene and divinylbenzene, leads to a bicontinuous PEM comprising interpenetrating nanodomains of highly cross-linked polystyrene and poly(ethylene oxide)/ionic liquid. Ionic conductivities higher than the 1 mS/cm benchmark were achieved in samples with an elastic modulus approaching 1 GPa at room temperature. Crucially, these samples are robust solids above 100 C, where the conductivity is significantly higher. This strategy holds tremendous potential to advance lithium-ion battery technology by enabling the use of lithium metal anodes or to serve as membranes in high-temperature fuel cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-126
Number of pages5
JournalNano letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2014


  • Polymer electrolyte
  • bicontinuous
  • high-temperature fuel cell
  • ionic liquid
  • lithium-ion battery
  • polymerization-induced phase separation


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