Proton Transport in Hierarchical-Structured Nafion Membranes: A NMR Study

Hengrui Yang, Jin Zhang, Jingliang Li, San Ping Jiang, Maria Forsyth, Haijin Zhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


It is known that hierarchical structure plays a key role in many unique material properties such as self-cleaning effect of lotus leaves and the antifogging property of the compound eyes of mosquitoes. This study reports a series of highly ordered mesoporous Nafion membranes with unique hierarchical structural features at the nanometer scale. Using NMR, we show for the first time that, at low RH conditions, the proton in the ionic domains migrates via a surface diffusion mechanism and exhibits approximately 2 orders of magnitude faster transport than that in the nanopores, whereas the nanopores play a role of reservoir and maintain water and thereby conductivity at higher temperature and lower humidities. Thereby creating hierarchical nanoscale structures is a feasible and promising strategy to develop PEMs that would enable efficient electrochemical performance in devices such as fuel cells, even in the absence of high humidity and at elevated temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3624-3629
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - 3 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


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