Polyaniline nanofibers are the high aspect version of polyaniline created by several techniques including nanofiber seeding, electrochemical synthesis (electrosynthesis), electrospinning of composites and several oxidative polymerization methods. Most of these methods required templates that had to be removed, foreign materials that increased cost or otherwise poorly scalable techniques. Nanofibers of polyaniline, unlike conventional micronscale polyaniline particulates characteristically disperse in water and other solvents. Conventional polyaniline is most typically processed through dissolving in one the few true solvents for polyaniline, such as N-methyl pyrrolidinone, and blended with another polymer that is more easily molded by thermal processing methods.
Prof. Jiaxing Huang (currently of Northwestern University) and Prof. Richard Kaner (University of California, Los Angeles) pioneered a new method of synthesizing polyaniline nanofibers that had the potential for synthesizing the materials affordably on a large scale. These methods include interfacial polymerization and "rapidly mixing" methods.
The nanofiber syntheses developed at UCLA provide the basis for the developments of Fibron Technologies, which is now supplying dispersions of polyaniline nanofibers among other conducting polymer nanostructures.
Previously commercially available water dispersible polyaniline (and other conducting polymers) required the use of polymeric dopants or other surfactants, which can be used to create nanoparticles through emulsion or surfactant stabilized growth. Companies like Panipol, Ormecon, AGFA and HC Starck supply organic molecule stabilized spherical conducting polymers, but the higher aspect ratio of nanofibers allows less material to be used to achieve percolation threshold. The methods being developed by Fibron Technologies are comparably more environmentally friendly and cost effective than the routes that use surfactants and organic molecule stabilizers during and post synthesis.
- "Polyaniline nanofibers: facile synthesis and chemical sensors". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125 (2): 314–5. January 2003. doi:10.1021/ja028371y. PMID 12517126.