Effect of Crystallization on Proton Transport in Model Polymer Electrolyte Membranes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Polymer electrolyte membranes with bicontinuous microphases comprising soft hydrated domains and mechanically robust hydrophobic domains are used in a wide range of electrochemical devices induding fuel cells and electrolyzers. The self-assembly, water uptake, and proton conductivity of model block copolymer electrolytes with semicrystalline hydrophobic blocks were investigated. A series of sulfonated polystyrene-block-polyethylene (PSS-PE) copolymers were synthesized to probe the interplay between crystallization, morphology, hydration, and proton transport. In block copolymer systems with amorphous hydrophobic blocks, it has been shown that higher water update and proton conductivity are obtained in low molecular weight systems. However, crystallization is known to disrupt the self-assembly of low molecular weight block copolymers. We found that this disruption results in lower water uptake and proton conductivity. Increasing molecular weight results in less morphological disruption and improvement in performance.


  • Keith M. Beers
  • David T. Wong
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Xin Wang
  • John A. Pople
  • Alexander Hexemer
  • Nitash P. Balsara
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Natural Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4330-4336
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch