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  • Bulk-like and Interfacial Water Dynamics in Nafion Fuel Cell Membranes Investigated with Ultrafast Nonlinear IR Spectroscopy. The journal of physical chemistry. B Roget, S. A., Kramer, P. L., Thomaz, J. E., Fayer, M. D. 2019


    The water confined in the hydrophilic domains of Nafion fuel cell membranes is central to its primary function of ion transport. Water dynamics are intimately linked to proton transfer and are sensitive to the structural features and length scales of confinement. Here, ultrafast polarization-selective pump-probe and two-dimensional infrared vibrational echo (2D IR) experiments were performed on fully hydrated Nafion membranes with sodium counterions to explicate the water dynamics. Like aerosol-OT reverse micelles (AOT RMs), the water dynamics in Nafion are attributed to bulk-like core water in the central region of the hydrophilic domains and much slower interfacial water. Population and orientational dynamics of water in Nafion are slowed by polymer confinement. Comparison of the observed dynamics to those of AOT RMs helps identify local interactions between water and sulfonate anions at the interface and among water molecules in the core. This comparison also demonstrates that the well-known spherical cluster morphology of Nafion is not appropriate. Spectral diffusion of the interfacial water, which arises from structural dynamics, was obtained from the 2D IR experiments taking the core water to have dynamics similar to bulk water. Like the orientational dynamics, spectral diffusion was found to be much slower at the interface compared to bulk water. Together, the dynamics indicate slow reorganization of weakly hydrogen-bonded water molecules at the interface of Nafion. These results provide insights into proton transport mechanisms in fuel cell membranes, and more generally, water dynamics near the interface of confining systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jpcb.9b07592

    View details for PubMedID 31580076