Ionic transport in the amorphous phase of semicrystalline polyethylene oxide thin films
We present a detailed study on the ionic transport properties of polyethylene oxide (PEO) thin films prepared under different conditions. Using a state-of-the-art Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) methodology, we simultaneously acquired the nanostructured topography of these semicrystalline polymer films as well as the corresponding dielectric function; in the latter case by probing the frequency-dependent tip–sample electrical interactions. By means of this AFM protocol, we studied the ionic conductivity in the PEO amorphous phase and its dependence on film preparation conditions. In general, for any preparation method, we found a distribution of conductivities ranging from 10−14 to 10−6 S cm−1. Specifically, PEO thin films crystallized from the melt presented relatively high conductivity values, which decreased in the PEO films prepared from solutions at room temperature depending on solvent polarity. We discuss our results by considering the molecular arrangement of the polymer segments in the complex amorphous phase, which is strongly influenced by the PEO crystallization route.