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  1. Cyclic voltammetry was applied to investigate the permselective properties of electrode-supported ion-exchange polymer films intended for use in future molecular-scale spectroscopic studies of bipolar membranes. The ability of thin ionomer film assemblies to exclude mobile ions charged similarly to the polymer (co-ions) and accumulate ions charged opposite to the polymer (counterions) was scrutinized through use of the diffusible redox probe molecules [Ru(NH3)6]3+and [IrCl6]2−. With the anion exchange membrane (AEM) phase supported on a carbon disk electrode, bipolar junctions formed by addition of a cation exchange membrane (CEM) overlayer demonstrated high selectivity toward redox ion extraction and exclusion. For junctions formed using a Fumion®AEM phase and a Nafion®overlayer, [IrCl6]2−ions exchanged into Fumion®prior to Nafion®overcoating remained entrapped and the Fumion®excluded [Ru(NH3)6]3+ions for durability testing periods of more than 20 h under conditions of interest for eventualin situspectral measurements. Experiments with the Sustainion®anion exchange ionomer uncovered evidence for [IrCl6]2−ion coordination to pendant imidazolium groups on the polymer. A cyclic voltammetric method for estimation of the effective diffusion coefficient and equilibrium extraction constant for redox active probe ions within inert, uniform density electrode-supported thin films was applied to examine charge transport mechanisms.

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  2. Infrared and Raman spectroscopy techniques were applied to investigate the drying and aggregation behavior of Nafion ionomer particles dispersed in aqueous solution. Gravimetric measurements aided the identification of gel-phase development within a series of time-resolved spectra that tracked transformations of a dispersion sample during solvent evaporation. A spectral band characteristic of ionomer sidechain end group vibration provided a quantitative probe of the dispersion-to-gel change. For sets of attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectra, adherence to Beer’s law was attributed to the relatively constant refractive index in the frequency region of hydrated -SO3 - group vibrations as fluorocarbon-rich ionomer regions aggregate in forming the structural framework of membranes and thin films. Although vibrational bands associated with ionomer backbone CF2 stretching vibrations were affected by distortion characteristic of wavelength-dependent refractive index change within a sample, the onset of band distortion signaled gel formation and coincided with ionomer mass % values just below the critical gelation point for Nafion aqueous dispersions. Similar temporal behavior was observed in confocal Raman microscopy experiments that monitored the formation of a thin ionomer film from an individual dispersion droplet. For the ATR FTIR spectroscopy and confocal Raman microscopy techniques, intensity in the water H-O-H bending vibrational band dropped sharply at the ionomer critical gelation point and displayed a time dependence consistent with changes in water content derived from gravimetric measurements. The reported studies lay groundwork for examining the impact of dispersing solvents and above-ambient temperatures on fluorinated ionomer transformations that influence structural properties of dispersion-cast membranes and thin films. 
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