Ni(II)-Based Metallosupramolecular Polymer with Carboxylic Acid Groups: A Stable Platform for Smooth Imidazole Loading and the Anhydrous Proton Channel Formation

The Ni­(II)-based metallosupramolecular polymer with carboxylic acid groups (polyNi) was synthesized via a 1:1 complexation of Ni­(II) salt with (4,4′-(9,9-dihexyl-9H-fluorene-2,7-diyl)­bis­(pyridine-2,6-dicarboxylic acid) for the first time. The divalent state of Ni­(II) in the polymer was confirmed by the X-ray absorption fine structure analysis. Smooth loading of imidazole molecules into polyNi proceeded with the help of the carboxylic acid groups to form the imidazole-loaded polyNi (polyNi-Im). Thermogravimetric analysis of polyNi-Im revealed that approximately three imidazole molecules were incorporated per repeating unit of polyNi. The Fourier transform infrared spectrum of polyNi-Im showed a new peak at 3219 cm–1, which shows an ∼73 cm–1 enhancement to −N–H of pristine imidazole. The peak suggests the formation of an imidazolium cation in the polymer. Powder X-ray diffraction indicated no degradation of the polymer structure during the imidazole loading because the diffraction pattern of polyNi-Im was almost the same as that of polyNi except for the presence of peaks corresponding to the imidazole molecules. Interestingly, the scanning electron microscopy measurement showed a large morphological change to uniform spherical particles by loading imidazole to the polymer. PolyNi-Im exhibited good proton conductivity (1.05 × 10–2 mS/cm) at a high temperature (120 °C), which is around 7 orders of magnitude higher than that of pristine polyNi because of the proton conduction pathway formation along the polymer chains by the incorporated imidazole molecules.