While most conjugated polymers within the group are designed to be processed from organic solvents and function as redox materials within organic electrolytes, there is an active push to move towards conjugated polymers with aqueous compatibility, where the materials can either be processed from water or utilized with aqueous electrolytes.
The Reynolds group has utilized a side chain defunctionalization approach to achieve aqueous compatible materials. Using ester side chains, conjugated polymers can be synthesized within organic solvents, hydrolyzed to water-soluble polyelectrolytes, and acidified to a solvent resistant and aqueous compatible materials.1 The resulting solvent resistant films can be used in electrochromic and charge storage applications using a variety of aqueous electrolytes
Another side chain defunctionalization approach within the group uses a combination of ester functionality and o-nitrobenzyl functionality in what is referred to a multistage side chain approach.2 These polymers are synthesized in organic solvents and can be hydrolyzed to aqueous processable polyelectrolytes. After casting films from aqueous solutions, the polymer films are irradiated with UV light to remove the side chain mass and render the film insoluble and electroactive. The resulting films can be used in both redox and solid-state applications such as electrochromic and field-effect transistors.
We use polar side chains to obtain materials with redox activity in aqueous electrolytes. ProDOT polymers with diester side chains provide a significant enhancement in aqueous electrolyte compatibility compared to alkoxy (OEtHX) and ester (BOE) side chains.
 J. F. Ponder, A. M. Österholm and J. R. Reynolds, Chemistry of Materials 2017, 29, 4385-4392.
 B. Schmatz, Z. Yuan, A. W. Lang, J. L. Hernandez, E. Reichmanis and J. R. Reynolds, ACS Central Science 2017, 3, 961-967.