Fast Proton Conduction Facilitated by Minimum Water in a Series of Divinylsilyl-11-silicotungstic Acid-co-Butyl Acrylate-co-Hexanediol Diacrylate Polymers

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Diffusion, Membranes


Studies of proton transport in novel materials are important to enable a large array of electrochemical devices. In this study, we show that heteropoly acids (HPAs) when immobilized in polymer matrixes have highly mobile protons. Divinyl-11-silicotungstic acid, an HPA, was copolymerized with butyl acrylate and hexanediol diacrylate at various weight percentage loadings from 25% to 85% using UV initiated polymerizations. The resultant films were tan colored flexible sheets of ca. 120 μm thickness. The morphology of these films varied with loading, showing phase separation into clustered HPA above a 50 wt % loading and lamella morphologies above an 80 wt % loading. Water uptake was strongly associated with the HPA clusters, which facilitated transport of protons. This was realized by proton conductivities as high as 0.4 S cm–1 at 95 °C and 95% RH and 0.1 S cm–1 at 85 °C and 50% RH. Pulse field gradient spin echo NMR measurements indicated that water self-diffusion was fast (1.4 × 10–5 and 4.4 × 10–5 cm2 s–1 for 50% and 100% RH, respectively) at 80 °C. We show that the water in these systems is highly associated with the HPA clusters and that fast proton transport is facilitated by as few as 3 water molecules per proton.


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