From nanoparticles to fibres: effect of dispersion composition on fibre properties
A polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-stabilized polypyrrole nanodispersion has been optimised for conductivity and processability by decreasing the quantity of PVA before and after synthesis. A reduction of PVA before synthesis leads to the formation of particles with a slight increase in dry particle diameter (51 ± 6 to 63 ± 3 nm), and conversely a reduced hydrodynamic diameter. Conductivity of the dried nanoparticle films was not measureable after a reduction of PVA prior to synthesis. Using filtration of particles after synthesis, PVA content was sufficiently reduced to achieve dried thin film conductivity of 2 S cm−1, while the electroactivity of the dispersed particles remained unchanged. The as-synthesized and PVA-reduced polypyrrole particles were successfully spun into all-nanoparticle fibres using a wet-extrusion approach without the addition of any polymer or gel matrix. Using nanoparticles as a starting material is a novel approach, which allowed the production of macro-scale fibres that consisted entirely of polypyrrole nanoparticles. Fibres made from PVA-reduced polypyrrole showed higher electroactivity compared to fibres composed of the dispersion high in PVA. The mechanical properties of the fibres were also improved by reducing the amount of PVA present, resulting in a stronger, more ductile and less brittle fibre, which could find potential application in various fields.