Preparation of conductive polypyrrole/polyurethane foams and their application as chemical sensors

Date of Completion

January 2006


Chemistry, Polymer|Engineering, Materials Science




Electrically conductive polypyrrole/polyurethane (PPy/PU) composite foams were prepared by first impregnating the PU foams with iodine, and then exposing the iodine-loaded PU foams to pyrrole vapor, which resulted in the in situ oxidative polymerization of pyrrole monomer by iodine oxidant. ^ Iodine sorption by polyurethane (PU) and melamine-formaldehyde (MF) foams was studied using both iodine sublimation and iodine solutions with hexanes and toluene. In the sublimation process, the diffusion kinetics was investigated and the interaction between iodine and PU foams was characterized by DSC, TGA, Raman spectroscopy and electrical conductivity measurements. In the solution process, the equilibrium absorption followed the distribution law and the distribution coefficients varied depending on the solvent used. MF foam achieved no iodine absorption in both processes which can be attributed to the lack of charge-transfer interactions. ^ The kinetics, equilibrium and mechanism of the in situ polymerization of pyrrole by iodine in a PU foam was investigated and discussed. The dopant for the PPy was primarily I3-, which formed a charge-transfer complex (PPy-I2) with the amine groups of the PPy. The conductivity of the composite foams was measured and several factors affecting the conductivity were analyzed. The chemical structure, morphology, mechanical properties and thermal stability of the composite foams, and the relationships between these factors were characterized. ^ The PPy/PU composite foams were investigated as sensors for various volatile chemicals, including some chemical warfare simulants. High sensitivity has been demonstrated for organic amine compounds, as well as two mustard agent simulants. The quasireversibility and time scale of the resistance response was qualitatively explained based on the mass uptake characteristic of amine by the composite foam. Humidity also demonstrated its influence on the resistance of the foam sensor in a completely reversible manner.^