Application of polypyrrole to flexible substrates
Conducting polymers such as polypyrrole may be useful in smart packaging products, provided application methods can be developed that circumvent the insolubility and infusibility of these materials. Experiments were conducted in five research areas relevant to the application of polypyrrole to nonrigid substrates. The studies reveal that application of polypyrrole from the liquid phase, either by deposition from depleted bulk solution or inkjet printing dispersions, is unlikely to give films as regular as those produced by vapor phase polymerization. Using the latter approach, two potential methods of applying patterned polypyrrole films to nonrigid substrates were developed. The first used hypochlorite to pattern a continuous film of polypyrrole, previously applied by vapor phase polymerization. The second used inkjet printing to apply an oxidant solution, whose pH had been raised with a volatile base, to nonrigid substrates. The higher pH reduced corrosion of the print head, increasing the lifetime of printers exposed to oxidative compounds. The base was subsequently evaporated by heating, and the dried oxidant used as a template for vapor phase polymerization of polypyrrole. This method gave smooth, shiny and adherent polypyrrole films on papers and polyester transparency, with high resolution.