Materials Sciences and Applicatio n, 2011, 2, 721-728
doi:10.4236/msa.2011.27100 Published Online July 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Structural and Ion Transport Studies in
(100–x)PVdF + xNH4SCN Gel Electrolyte
Kamlesh Pandey1, Mrigank Mauli Dwivedi1, Nidhi Asthana1, Markandey Singh2, Shanker Lal Agrawal2
1National Centre of Experimental Mineralogy and Petrology, University of Allahabad, Allahabad, India; 2Department of Physics,
A.P.S. University, Rewa, India.
Received August 5th, 2010; revised September 14th, 2010; accepted May 23rd, 2011.
In order to obtain highly conductive polymer gel electrolytes for electrochemical devices, Poly (vinylidene fluoride)
(PVdF) based gel electrolytes, namely, (100–x)PVdF + xNH4SCN electrolyte system has been synthesized by solution
cast technique and characterized by XRD, DSC, IR, SEM and electrical measurements. IR study of gel electrolytes
shows interaction of PVdF matrix and dopant salt with prominence of α-phase. This result is also well supported by
XRD and DSC studies. The electrolytes are electrochemically stable within ± 1.5 V. The optimum bulk electrical con-
ductivity for 90PVdF + 10NH4SCN electrolyte has been found to be ~ 2.5 × 10–2
·cm–1. Dielectric relaxation behavior
shows low frequency dispersion and αc-related relaxation peak is observed in loss spectra. Polarization behavior of gel
electrolyte shows ionic nature of charge transport (Tion. > 0.90). The temperature dependent conductivity shows VTF
Keywords: Poly (Vinylidene Fluoride), Gel Electrolyte, Ion Transport, Dielectric Relaxation, Structural Studies
1. Introduction
Gel polymer electrolytes have high technical interest in
fabrication of electrochemical devices. Since the first
report of high conductivity in gel polymer electrolytes
(GPEs), these materials which have both solid and liquid
like properties, have been introduced as a novel electro-
lyte material in the field of electrochemical device appli-
cations [1,2]. In GPEs, the polymer matrix is swelled in
solvents containing ions and so can be thought of as a
non-aqueous liquid electrolyte immobilized by a polymer
matrix. The solvent helps in the dissolution of salt and
provides the medium for ion conduction. In recent years,
polymers such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) poly (vi-
nylidene fluoride) (PVdF), Poly ethylene glycol (PEG),
poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC), poly(acrylonitrile) (PAN),
poly(vinyl pyrrolidone) (PVP) and poly(vinyl sulfone)
(PVS) have been prominently used in development of
GPEs [3-6]. These electrolytes have been found to pos-
sess ionic conductivity, electrochemical stability and
transport properties similar to their liquid counter parts
along with better dynamical properties suitable for elec-
trochemical applications. Among the listed polymeric
hosts, Poly (vinylidene fluoride) has been intensely in-
vestigated because of its interesting ferroelectric proper-
ties and technological applications. PVdF is a commer-
cially available fluoropolymer with low surface energy
and good physical, chemical, and mechanical properties.
Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the PVdF mem-
brane with a porous surface structure should have en-
hanced hydrophobicity. It can exist in several crystalline
phases with α and β -phases being most common [7-9].
Further, PVdF is of semicrystalline polymer and the
electrolytes based on PVdF are expected to have high
anodic stabilities due to strong electron withdrawing
functional groups. In PVdF based gel electrolytes, high
permittivity and relatively low dissipation factor of PVdF
assist in higher ionization of salts providing higher con-
centration of charge carriers [10] and thus rendering high
electrical conductivity. Besides, PVdF is also very attrac-
tive polymer exhibiting piezoelectric and pyroelectric
characteristics that have been exploited in the develop-
ment of electrochemical devices [11-14]. However, pro-
perties of electrolyte films strongly depend on the crys-
tallinity and morphology. Both these factors suffer sig-
nificant variations when the material undergoes thermal
and mechanical treatments.
In the view of above, a detailed experimental study
(structural, thermal and electrical) on poly (vinylidene
Structural and Ion Transport Studies in (100–x)PVdF + xNH SCN Gel Electrolyte
722 4
fluoride) (PVdF) based gel polymer electrolytes with
ammonium thiocynate salt have been carried out in this
2. Experimental
Poly (vinyledene fluoride) (PVdF; Aldrich sigma) with
an average molecular weight of (~5.34 × 105) and Am-
monium thiocynate (NH4SCN; Rankem India) were used
for the preparation of polymer electrolyte. NH4SCN salt
was used after drying at 70˚C under vacuum for 24 h and
PVdF without any further purification. Distilled Tetra-
hydrofuron (THF) and Dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) in a
suitable ratio were used as solvent. The dissolved poly-
mer and salt solutions were mixed together and the re-
sulting solution was stirred continuously to obtain a ho-
mogenous mixture. The polymer solution was allowed to
evaporate at 35˚C till the achievement of gelly state.
Then it was poured on a clean glass mould. Thin films
thus obtained were subjected to SEM (JEOL JXA-8100)
measurement for the film morphology studies while
FTIR (Perkin-Elmer) and XRD (Phillips Expert model)
using Cu KÅ,in the Bragg’s angle range
(2 = 15˚ - 60˚) were carried out to investigate the com-
plexation behavior. Thermal behavior of GPEs was stud-
ied by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) (model
NETZSCH DSC 200F3) in the temperature range 25˚C -
150˚C. The electrical conductivity was measured from
impedance plots at different temperature using LCZ me-
ter (Hioki LCR 5322 Japan) in the frequency range 40 -
100 kHz with the signal amplitude of 20 mV. The cyclic
voltammetry has been performed for the Pt/gel polymer
electrolytes/Pt cell with scan rate of 0.1 V/s for fifty cy-
cles to affirm excellent reversibility of the electrolyte.
Dielectric data were extracted from cole-cole plot.
3. Results and Discussion
The X-diffraction pattern of pure PVdF and gel electro-
lyte system, namely, 90PVdF + 10NH4SCN are shown in
Figure 1. In pure PVdF, three intense characteristic
peaks located at 19.6˚ (110), 23.5˚ (200) and 26.6˚ (021)
along with one small peak at 18˚ are observed. All the
three major peaks correspond to orthorhombic α-phase of
PVdF. Few dull reflections appearing near these intense
peaks show the possibility of formation of γ-crystals in
PVdF simultaneously. The formation of different phases
(-, and - etc.) mostly depends upon the film forma-
tion condition and techniques. The PVdF film prepared
by solution cast technique at room temperature in THF or
/and DMSO show prominence of and crystallinity
In 90PVdF + 10NH4SCN polymer electrolyte film,
diffraction peak at 2 = 18˚ and 19.6˚ in pure polymer
merged in a single peak with downsizing of intensities,
Figure 1. XRD curve for PVdF film and (90PVdF +
10NH4SCN) gel electrolytes.
alongwith its shifting towards high 2 values (20.1˚).
Further peak at 26.4˚ in pure PVdF completely disap-
peared after the complexation of salt with polymer. Simi-
lar result have been reported by Park et al. [16] for PVdF
based system. XRD pattern of electrolyte did not reveal
any peak corresponding to NH4SCN salt, thereby indi-
cating absence of uncomplexed salt in polymer electro-
lyte film. The decrease in peak intensity but increase in
peak area reveals that the sample with 10 wt% salt com-
position is highly amorphous and thus expected to cause
higher conductivity. These observations apparently show,
that polymer undergoes significant structural reorganiza-
tion upon addition of salt.
The IR spectrum of pristine PVdF and (90PVdF +
10NH4SCN) films are shown in Figure 2. Pertinent peaks
were analyzed and have been summarized in Table 1.
Pristine PVdF is characterized by the presence of vibra-
tional bands at 612 & 763 cm–1 and related to CF2 with
skeleton bending respectively. Presence of peaks at 532,
1210, 1383, 1432 cm–1 show dominance of crystalline
-phase in PVdF film. This spectrum also exhibits moder-
ately intense band at 840 and 510 cm–1 indicating the exis-
tence of form of polymer film [17]. Similarly, presence
of -phase (in trace) is indicated by appearance of 1234
cm–1 absorption peak. In PVdF film, peak at 840 cm–1 is
always visible and its intensity is not much affected by the
sample preparation condition and thus can be used as an
internal reference for evaluation of the fraction of and
-phase in the film. Another important feature in PVdF film
is the presence of CH2 group 3020 cm–1 (a CH2) and
symmetric vibration at 2970 cm–1 (s CH2). Symmetric
vibrations are weaker than asymmetric vibrations since the
former leads to less change in dipole moment.
In 90 PVdF + 10NH4SCN gel electrolyte system, these
peaks are slightly shifted to lower wave number side
along with change in intensity. The intense and broad
absorption peak related to CH2 rocking vibration at 874
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Structural and Ion Transport Studies in (100–x)PVdF + xNH4SCN Gel Electrolyte
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
cm–1 show the presence of head to head and tail to tail
configuration but the intensity of this peak enhances after
the addition of salt, indicating strong salt polymer inter-
action. Addition of NH4SCN gives few new peaks at
2000 - 2200 cm–1 which indicate formation of
PVdF-NH4SCN crystalline complex [18,19]. These new
peaks are ascribable to the contact ion pair and solvent
separated dimer. It also enhances intensity of peaks at
1500 cm–1 & 1470 cm–1and reduces/vanishes the intensity
of 1860 cm–1 and 1286 cm–1 absorption peaks.
The SEM image of different PVdF + NH4SCN gel
electrolyte systems were recorded (Figure 3) to assess
the morphology of gel electrolyte. In pure PVdF film
(Figure 3(a)), several pores with a lamellar distribution
of poly crystalline domain and traces of two polymorphic
phases (and are observed and reported elsewhere
[20]. The addition of salt drastically changes the PVdF
micro structure. It clearly shows bimodal morphology
with modified crystalline domain. The addition of salt
(NH4SCN) connects these pores to each other due to,
induced delay in phase relation or lower surface energy.
In films containing 10% of salt, smooth and better struc-
ture was obtained. At very high content of salt, pore dis-
appear giving rise to smooth morphology of films. The
disappearance of porosity and enhancement of grains are
advantageous for interfacial contact between the polymer
and salt. This connectivity of the pores is favorable for
the transportation of proton and thus enhancement of
ionic conductivity [21].
Figure 2. Infrared spectrum of PVdF film and (90PVdF +
10NH4SCN) gel electrolytes. NH4SCN IR spectrum is shown
in inset.
cm–1 in pure PVdF weakens significantly after complexa-
tion with NH4SCN, possibly due to replacement of fluo-
rine atoms with SCN. Few peaks (706, 1024 and 1310
cm–1) related to DMSO are also visible in pure as well as
gel polymer film. The absorption peak at 677
In Figure 4, DSC curve of pure PVdF film and
(90PVdF + 10NH4SCN) electrolyte film are given. In
Table 1. Peak position and their assignment for PVdF and 90PVdF+ 10NH4 SCN electrolytes.
Peak Positions (cm–1)
Pure PVDF Pure PVdF + NH4SCN
510 -
-phase of PVdF
532 532
612 -
-phase of PVdF (mixed mode of CF2)
706 706
as (S=O) of DMSO
763 764
-phase (rocking vibration)
860 848
-phase (out of phase combination)
1024 1024
as (C=S) of DMSO
1210 -
-phase of PVdF
1234 -
-phase of PVdF
1286 1268
1310 1310 DMSO in liquid state
1383 1336
1431 1428
-phase, in plane bending or scissoring
1839 - Pure PVDF
2000 - 2200 2000 - 2200 (intense & sharp) Characteristic peaks of NH4SCN
2910 2910
CH2 Asymmetric stretching
3020 3020
CH2 Symmetric strething
3250 3280
N-H stretching
3600 3600 -OH bending
Structural and Ion Transport Studies in (100–x) PVdF + xNH SCN Gel Electrolyte
724 4
Figure 3. SEM Image of different PGE systems.
Figure 4. DSC Pattern of (a) PVdF and (b) (90PVdF +
10NH4SCN) film.
pure PVdF three strong endothermic peaks at 168˚C,
172˚C and 192˚C have been reported and correlated to
(165˚C - 170˚C), (172˚C - 177˚C) and (187˚C - 192˚C)
phases of PVdF respectively [22]. Besides a small and
broad endothermic peak close to 128˚C has also been
reported and associated to -phase/-relaxation peak of
poly (vinylidene fluoride). Appearance of 128˚C endo-
thermic peak in present investigation affirms the reported
result. Other peaks could not be traced due to the range
of thermal scan being limited to 150˚C. In electrolyte
system we observe shifting of this peak towards lower
temperature (113˚C). The decrease in Tg of GPE, in-
creases the amorphousness of the electrolyte material.
DSC profile of electrolyte did not reveal any characteris-
tic endothermic transition of NH4SCN, to suggest com-
plete absorption of salt in polymer. The position of re-
side (decrease from 128˚C to 113˚C) of NH4SCN related
Tm in DSC profile indicates high compatibility of PVdF
network with NH4SCN and also validates the presence of
-phase dominantly as explained in XRD and IR studies.
Electrochemical stability window of a given polymer
laxation peak after complexation shifts 15˚ toward lower
electrolyte perform-
ctrical con-
ectrolyte system is determined by linear sweep volt-
ammetry with an inert electrode (Pt- in present case) in
the electrolyte sample. Figure 5 shows, typical current /
voltage curves of Pt / (100–x) PVdF + xNH4SCN / Pt cell
at a scan rate of 0.1 mV/s for different electrolyte com-
positions. It is apparent from the figure that GPE con-
taining 10 wt% NH4SCN is highly stable (curve). To
ascertain this fact the plot was expanded (inset of figure).
In this curve a loop is visible which is related to oxida-
tion reduction process of the electrolyte. The onset cur-
rent in the anodic high voltage range is assumed to result
from a decomposition process associated with electrode
and this onset voltage is taken as upper limit of the elec-
trolyte stability range. This voltage is generally located
as the point of interaction of the extrapolated linear cur-
rent in high voltage region with voltage axis. For all
electrolyte system the current response is better in 1.5
volt. This implies that there is no decomposition of any
components in this potential region.
Another important parameter in
ce is the ionic transference number and usually poly-
mer electrolytes, have the value less than unity. The cur-
rent vs. time graph of 90PVdF + 10NH4SCN is shown in
Figure 6. The ionic transference number evaluated by
Wagner’s method of polarization for the best conducting
electrolyte is 0.9. This indicates charge transport essen-
tially through ion viz. proton in present case.
Figure 7 shows the variation of bulk ele
ctivity with salt composition in [(100–x)PVdF +
xNH4SCN] system. Addition of NH4SCN increases the
Figure 5. Variation of current with applied potential for
[(100–x)PVdF + xNH4SCN] gel electrolyte system.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Structural and Ion Transport Studies in (100–x)PVdF + xNH SCN Gel Electrolyte725
Figure 6. Variation of current with time for (90PVdF +
10NH4SCN) film system.
Figure 7. Variation of bulk electrical conductivity for
onductivity of PVdF film by more than two orders of
nductivity of (100–x)PVdF +
tan (1)
where 0 is the vacu
ity in
ange of bulk conductivity
[(100–x)PVdF + xNH4SCN] gel electrolyte system.
magnitude, attains a maximum and then starts decreasing.
The increase in conductivity can be attributed to the in-
crease in numbers of transporting ions or ion – ion inter-
action and some amount of liquid trapped within polymer
matrix. Initially as concentration of salt increases free ion
concentration augment leading to increase in electrical
conductivity. Another possible reason for increase in
conductivity is the presence of trapped liquid within the
pores of polymer matrix [23]. As evidenced in XRD and
IR studies, the interaction between salt with fluorine
group in PVdF matrix is likely to enhance the conductiv-
ity of gel electrolyte. As the concentration of salt in-
creases significantly, the mutual distance between ions
decreases until ion—ion interaction become significant.
Therefore, for higher concentration (beyond 10 wt% salt),
the stronger is ion—ion interaction which results in the
change of free ions to ion pair or the formation of higher
aggregates. Consequently, the ionic conductivity de-
creases as a result of decrease of mobility and as well as
number of charge carriers.
Frequency dependent co
H4SCN (where x = 2, 4, 6, 10, 15, 20) is shown in
Figure 8. The a.c. conductivity of gel electrolyte has
been evaluated using the relation
ac = ' 0
um permittivity and is the angular
frequency. Conductivity initially increases with frequency
up to 1 KHz and thereafter tends to attain a plateau in all
compositions. The initial increase in conductivity with
frequency is due to relaxation effect of the polymer.
The frequency independent behavior of conductiv
gh frequency region has been reported in other poly-
meric electrolytes [24] and has been well explained by
Ramesh and Arof [25].
Figure 9 shows the ch
valuated by cole-cole plot) with temperature for
90PVdF + 10NH4SCN system. Temperature dependent
conductivity shows the non linear increase in conductive-
ity with temperature up to 340 K. Above 340 K, the gel-
Figure 8. Variation of a.c. conductivity with frequency for
(100–x) PVdF + xNH4SCN films.
Figure 9. Variation of conductivity with temperaturefor
(90PVdF+ 10NH4SCN) polymer gel electrolyte.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Structural and Ion Transport Studies in (100–x)PVdF + xNH SCN Gel Electrolyte
726 4
where A is t
electrolyte shows a sudden change of slope in conductiv-
ity response. Positive curvature in curve indicates that
ionic conduction obeys the Vogel–Tamman–Fulcher
(VTF) relation-ship which describes the transport proper-
ties in viscous matrix and mathematically represented as.
(T)= AT½ exp [–B / kB (T–To)] (2)
he constant proportional to the number of
, B the pseudo-activation energy related to charge carriers
polymer segmental motion, kB the Boltzmann constant
and To is a reference temperature associated with ideal Tg.
The motion is strongly decoupled from the segmental
motion of the polymer backbone, thus finally demon-
strating that the ionic transport in the gel membranes
occurs mainly within the liquid solvent. The curvature at
70˚C, is possibly due to transition of polymorphic phase
(-αc phase) in poly (vinylidene fluoride). Such features
are generally observed for highly amorphous polymeric
system. The αc relaxation may have an important impli-
cation in determining the viscoelastic properties of po-
lymeric systems. The conductivity behavior below 70˚C,
may be due to beginning of some crystallization process
occurring due to some orientation induced stretching in
electrolyte film [26]. The increase in conductivity with
temperature is interpreted as hopping mechanism be-
tween coordinated sites, local structural relaxation and
segmental motion of the polymer. As the amorphous re-
gion progressively increases, however, the polymer chain
acquires faster internal motion and bond rotations (seg-
mental motions). This in turn favors the hopping of in-
ter-chain and intra-chain movement and ionic conductiv-
ity of polymer electrolyte becomes high.
To understand the relaxation dynamics in terms of
conductivity spectra at different temperature, the conduc-
tivity is scaled using Ghosh’s scaling method [27]. In this
scaling process the a. c. conductivity is scaled by dc
conductivity dc, while the frequency axis is scaled by
the hopping frequency p at different temperature. From
Figure 10, it is clear that conductivity spectra for differ-
ent temperature merge on a single master curve for the
polymer electrolyte 90PVdF + 10NH4SCN system. This
suggests the temperature independent relaxation dynam-
ics at higher frequencies. In the low frequency region
spectra of various compositions are not superimposed on
a single curve which implies that the relaxation dynamics
is composition dependent.
In case of polar polymers, the dielectric constant be-
gins to drop at a certain frequency. This decrease with
frequency is attributed to electrical relaxation or inability
of dipole to rotate rapidly to follow the applied field. In
low frequency region, ions aggregation at interface lead
to a net polarization which allows formation of space
charge region at electrode—electrolyte interface. Figure
Figure 10. Plot of scaled conductivity with normalized fre-
quency (90PVdF + 10NH4SCN) syste m.
riation of dielectric
onstant () and dielectric loss () of (90PVdF +
rphous regions are
The variation of tan with frequency at different tem-
11(a) and Figure 11(b) shows the va
10NH4SCN) electrolyte system as a function of fre-
quency for different temperatures. Strong frequency dis-
-persion in dielectric constant and dielectric loss was
recorded in lower frequency region followed by fre-
quency independent behavior at higher frequencies
(above 10 KHz) in case of polymer electrolyte as well.
The dielectric constant and loss value initially increases
with temperature upto 70˚C and then starts decreasing.
The decrease in dielectric constant beyond 70˚C could be
due to onset of some crystallization processes as ob-
served by Gregorio and Cestari [26].
Thin polymers are known to be mixture of amorphous
and crystalline region [28].The amo
e area in which chains are irregular and entangled,
whereas, in crystalline region chains are regularly folded
or orderly arranged. In the crystalline areas, because of
presence of hindering structural units (due to greater
density of the region) the polymeric chains move with
great difficulty than in the amorphous region. The hin-
drance can be assumed to possess a certain potential en-
ergy. When the polymer is heated the movement of main
chain sets in, and maximizes at Tg, with losses corre-
sponding to -relaxation. This relaxation corresponding
to Tg, may also be understood by free volume theory,
according to which the molecular mobility depends
mainly on free volume. The dielectric dispersion appear-
ing at higher temperature is generally connected to the
ordinary motion of the molecules from one quasi stable
position to the another around the skeletal bond involv-
ing large scale conformational rearrangement of the main
chain, and is known as primary dispersion region or the
-relaxation. The low temperature dielectric dispersion is
attributed to the dielectric response of the side group
which is considered to be more mobile or the small dis-
placement of the dipoles near the frozen—in position and
known as secondary dispersion region.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Structural and Ion Transport Studies in (100–x)PVdF + xNH SCN Gel Electrolyte727
Figure 11. Variation of different dielectric parameters with
frequency and tempe rature.
d to segmental diffusion mo-
on in amorphous region. At 70˚C a relaxation process is
nd electrical properties
trolyte based on PVdF-NH4SCN re-
mprovement of stability and ionic
Singh) are
2009/34/25/ BNRS) Govt.
he financial support of this
Y. Song, Y. Y. Wang and C. C. Wan, “Review of
Gel-Type Polithium-Ion Batter-
ies,” Journal o7, No. 2, 1999, pp.
perature is shown in Figure 11(c). The higher value of
tangent loss can be attribute
observed in temperature dependant tan curve. This is
similar to dielectric loss and labeled as α or αc and can be
associated to motion within crystalline region [29]. It
should be noticed that this relaxation is not clearly ob-
served as a peak in Figure 11(b).
4. Conclusions
The study of structural, thermal a
of gel polymer elec
sults a significant i
conductivity which are useful in application in electro-
chemical devices. XRD investigation show the increase
in amorphous behavior and dominance of -phase as
explained in XRD and IR studies. SEM studies show that
several pores with a lamellar distribution of poly crystal-
line domain with traces of two polymorphic phases
( and the addition of salt drastically changes the
PVdF micro structure. Electrical conductivity of GPEs
shows the VTF nature. In dielectric studies of electrolyte
system αc-relaxation peak has been observed.
5. Acknowledgements
Authors (vKamlesh Pandey and Markandey
Log f (Hz) thankful to BNRS-DAE, (No.
of India, Mumbai India for t
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