Conjugated polyelectrolyte (CPE) hydrogels synergize the electrical properties of redox-active polymers with the physical properties of hydrogels. Of particular relevance is their implementation as pseudocapacitors due to their high ionic conductivity, strong ionic-electronic coupling, and large electroactive surface area. To date, efforts to improve the cycling stability of such hydrogels are predominated by the use of additives - optimization of the CPE's intrinsic properties remains underexplored. Herein, the systematic increase in the molecular weight (MW) of a self-doped CPE, namely CPE-K, has been demonstrated as an effective strategy to enhance the cycling stability of the resulting hydrogel. At high MW, mechanically stronger hydrogels were obtained with a specific capacitance as high as 88 ± 4 F g−1 at 0.25 A g−1 and a cycling stability of 76% capacitance retention after 100 000 cycles at 2.5 A g−1. Furthermore, this strategy yields a wider working pseudocapacitive window, less internal resistance, and higher ionic conductivity within the 3D conductive network. We attribute the enhanced electrochemical performance to stronger inter-chain contacts for optimal morphological organization, as revealed by rheological measurements, resulting in stress-tolerant hydrogels with a higher degree of percolation within a 3D conductive network. These results position CPE-K hydrogels as a state-of-the-art organic material for long-term pseudocapacitive technologies and potentially for the next generation of multi-functional pseudocapacitive devices that go beyond high energy density and power density.
|Journal||Journal of Materials Chemistry A|
|Publication status||Published - 2022|
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