Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Polymer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

E. Bryan Coughlin

Second Advisor

Ryan C. Hayward

Third Advisor

Mark T. Tuominen

Subject Categories

Materials Science and Engineering


The research presented in this thesis focuses on developing new functional polymeric materials that can conduct ions, H+, or OH- or Li+. The motivation behind this work was to understand the similarities and/or differences in the structure property relationships between polymer membranes and the conductivity of H+ and OH- ions, and between polymer membranes and the anhydrous conductivity of H+ and Li+ ions. This understanding is critical to developing durable polymer membranes with high H+, OH- and Li+ ion conductivity for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), alkaline anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AAEMFCs) and lithium ion batteries respectively. Chapter 1 describes the basic functioning of PEMFCs, AAEMFCs and lithium ion batteries, the challenges associated with each research topic, and the fundamental mechanisms of ion transport.

The proton conducting properties of poly(4-vinyl-1H-1,2,3-triazole) were investigated on a macroscopic scale by impedance spectroscopy and microscopic scale by solid state MAS NMR. It was found that proton conductivity is independent of molecular weight of the polymer, but influenced by orders of magnitude by the presence of residual dimethylformamide. To improve the mechanical properties of otherwise liquid-like 1H-1,2,3-triazole functionalized polysiloxane homopolymers, hybrid inorganic-organic proton exchange membranes (PEMs) containing 1H-viii

1,2,3-triazole grafted alkoxy silanes were synthesized, using sol-gel chemistry. This method enabled self-supporting membranes having proton conductivity comparable to uncrosslinked homopolymers.

One of the biggest challenges with AEMs for use in AAEMFCs is finding a cationic polyelectrolyte that is chemically stable at elevated temperatures in high pH environment. Novel triazolium ionic salts were developed, having greater chemical stability under alkaline conditions compared to existing imidazolium ionic salts. However, the chemical stability of triazolium cations was not sufficient for AAEMFC applications. Excellent chemical stability of (C5H5)2Co+ in 2 M NaOH at 80°C over 30 days was demonstrated and polymerizable vinyl functionalized cobaltocenium monomers were synthesized. This work paves the way for future development of AEMs containing cobaltocenium moieties to facilitate hydroxide ion transport.

Polymers containing covalently attached cyclic carbonates were synthesized and doped with lithium triflate and their lithium ion conductivities were investigated. The findings highlight the importance of high charge carrier density and flexibility of the polymer matrix to achieve high lithium ion conductivity. These results are similar to the key factors influencing anhydrous proton transport.