Kinetics of pH response for copolymer films with dilute carboxylate functionality

Dongshun Bai, Craig L. Hardwick, Brad J. Berron, G. Kane Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We have investigated the effects of film composition and thickness on the rate of pH-induced response of a copolymer film containing predominately polymethylene with randomly distributed carboxylic acid side groups (denoted as PM-CO2H). These responsive films are prepared directly onto a gold electrode surface by surface-catalyzed polymerization and subsequent hydrolysis. We measured electrochemical impedance at fixed frequency (100 Hz) to monitor the barrier properties of the polymer film during a step change in pH. At a 1-3% molar acid content, the copolymer films exhibit a 2 order of magnitude change in impedance at 100 Hz when the contacting solution pH changes from 11 to 4 (or 4 to 11). For all films, the rate of protonation is slower than that of ionization, consistent with a more gradual transfer of protons through an increasingly hydrophobic film at the outermost nanometers during the protonation step. Increased acid content within the film accelerates both the rate of protonation and ionization. Thinner films (50 nm) with the same acid content show faster response rate in both directions, since water and ions have a shorter transfer path. A large and reversible pH response was obtained for all films studied, but selection of appropriate film composition and thickness can greatly influence the rate of response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11400-11406
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number39
StatePublished - Oct 4 2007

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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