The chemistry and structure of ion channels within the polymer electrolytes are of prime importance for studying the transport properties of electrolytes as well as for developing high-performance electrochemical devices. Despite intensive efforts on the synthesis of polymer electrolytes, few studies have demonstrated enhanced target ion conduction while suppressing unfavorable ion or mass transport because the undesirable transport occurs through an identical pathway. Herein, we report an innovative, chemical strategy for the synthesis of polymer electrolytes whose ion-conducting channels are physically and chemically modulated by the ionic (not electronic) conductive, functionalized graphenes and for a fundamental understanding of ion and mass transport occurring in nanoscale ionic clusters. The functionalized graphenes controlled the state of water by means of nanoscale manipulation of the physical geometry and chemical functionality of ionic channels. Furthermore, the confinement of bound water within the reorganized nanochannels of composite membranes was confirmed by the enhanced proton conductivity at high temperature and the low activation energy for ionic conduction through a Grotthus-type mechanism. The selectively facilitated transport behavior of composite membranes such as high proton conductivity and low methanol crossover was attributed to the confined bound water, resulting in high-performance fuel cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Materials Science
- General Engineering
- General Physics and Astronomy