Tiago Outerelo Corvo, Antoine Jourdain, Shona O’Brien, Frédéric Restagno, Eric Drockenmuller, and Alexis Chennevière
Poly(ionic liquid)s (PILs), similar to their ionic liquid (IL) analogues, present a nanostructure arising from local interactions. The influence of this nanostructure on the macromolecular conformation of polymer chains is investigated for the first time by means of an extensive use of small-angle neutron scattering on a series of poly(1-vinyl-3-alkylimidazolium)s with varying alkyl side-chain length and counter-anion, both in bulk and in dilute solutions. Radii of gyration are found to increase with the side-chain length in solution as a consequence of crowding interactions between neighboring monomers. In bulk, however, a nonmonotonic evolution of the radius of gyration reflects a change in chain flexibility and a potential screening of electrostatic interactions. Additionally, at a smaller scale, SANS provides an experimental estimation of both the chain diameter and the correlation length between neighboring chains, comparison of which unveils clear evidence of interdigitation of the alkyl side chains. These structural features bring precious insights into the understanding of the dynamic properties of PILs.