Nanofibers with diameters of tens of nanometers appear to be an intrinsic morphological unit that was found to "naturally" form in the early stage of the chemical oxidative polymerization of aniline. In conventional polymerization, nanofibers are subject to secondary growth of irregularly shaped particles, which leads to the final granular agglomerates. The key to producing pure nanofibers is to suppress secondary growth. Based on this, two methods - interfacial polymerization and rapidly mixed reactions - have been developed that can readily produce pure nanofibers by slightly modifying the conventional chemical synthesis of polyaniline without the need for any template or structural directing material. With this nanofiber morphology, the dispersibility and processibility of polyaniline are now much improved. The nanofibers show dramatically enhanced performance over conventional polyaniline applications such as in chemical sensors. They can also serve as a template to grow inorganic/polyaniline nanocomposites that lead to exciting properties such as electrical bistability that can be used for nonvolatile memory devices. Additionally, a novel flash welding technique for the nanofibers has been developed that can be used to make asymmetric polymer membranes, form patterned nanofiber films, and create polymer-based nanocomposites based on an enhanced photothermal effect observed in these highly conjugated polymeric nanofibers.
© 2013 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston