Epoxide-functionalization has emerged as an effective strategy for enhancing the oxidative stability of poly(ethylenimine)-based CO2 capture sorbents. However, the underlying mechanism remains largely unexplored. Here we combine first-principles modeling, material synthesis, and characterizations to investigate the impact of epoxide-functionalization on hydrogen bonding and mobility in poly(ethylenimine) (PEI). Blue-moon ensemble and deep potential molecular dynamics simulations reveal that epoxide-functionalization leads to stronger hydrogen bonding involving hydroxyl groups. Synthesized branched PEI samples with and without propylene-oxide (PO) functionalization are characterized using DSC, NMR relaxometry, and fluorescent probes, demonstrating that PO-functionalization significantly reduces BPEI mobility. These findings suggest that the enhanced oxidative stability of epoxide-functionalized PEI can be attributed to the formation of strong hydrogen bonds with hydroxyl groups, which restrict the mobility of PEI and decelerate mobility-dependent radical propagation reactions responsible for polymer degradation. Strategies for further tuning hydrogen bond environment are proposed based on these findings.
Supporting Information: Enhanced Hydrogen Bonding via Epoxide-functionalization Restricts Mobility in Poly(ethylenimine) for CO2 Capture