Langmuir, vol.39, no.8, pp.2943-2956, 2023 (SCI-Expanded)
A framework of ferrocene-containing polymers bearing adjustable pH- and redox-active properties in aqueous electrolyte environments was developed. The electroactive metallopolymers were designed to possess enhanced hydrophilicity compared to the vinylferrocene (VFc) homopolymer, poly(vinylferrocene) (PVFc), by virtue of the comonomer incorporated into the macromolecule, and could also be prepared as conductive nanoporous carbon nanotube (CNT) composites that offered a variety of different redox potentials spanning a ca. 300 mV range. The presence of charged non-redox-active moieties such as methacrylate (MA) in the polymeric structure endowed it with acid dissociation properties that interacted synergistically with the redox activity of the ferrocene moieties to impart pH-dependent electrochemical behavior to the overall polymer, which was subsequently studied and compared to several Nernstian relationships in both homogeneous and heterogeneous configurations. This zwitterionic characteristic was leveraged for the enhanced electrochemical separation of several transition metal oxyanions using a P(VFc0.63-co-MA0.37)-CNT polyelectrolyte electrode, which yielded an almost twofold preference for chromium as hydrogen chromate versus its chromate form, and also exemplified the electrochemically mediated and innately reversible nature of the separation process through the capture and release of vanadium oxyanions. These investigations into pH-sensitive redox-active materials provide insight for future developments in stimuli-responsive molecular recognition, with extendibility to areas such as electrochemical sensing and selective separation for water purification.