Random copolymers of isoprene and 4-vinylbenzyl chloride (VBCl) with varying compositions were synthesized via nitroxide-mediated polymerization. Subsequent quaternization afforded solvent processable and cross-linkable ionomers with a wide range of ion exchange capacities (IECs). Solution cast membranes were thermally cross-linked to form anion exchange membranes. Cross-linking was achieved by taking advantage of the unsaturations on the polyisoprene backbone, without added cross-linkers. A strong correlation was found between water uptake and ion conductivity of the membranes: conductivities of the membranes with IECs beyond a critical value were found to be constant related to their high water absorption. Environmentally controlled small-angle X-ray scattering experiments revealed a correlation between the average distance between ionic clusters and the ion conductivity, indicating that a well-connected network of ion clusters is necessary for efficient ion conduction and high ion conductivity.
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© 2015 American Chemical Society.