Enhanced Charge Transport through Nanoconfinement

Primary Inventors: 
Description: 

A team of accomplished researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered a novel pathway for enhancing anhydrous proton transport in polymeric materials. This pathway entails generating supramolecular nanoscale confinement in polymers containing anhydrous proton transport functionalities. By carefully designing the polymer structures, the proton transport moieties of the polymers can be confined and organized within the nanoscale domains of the polymers via self-assembly, resulting in enhanced proton transport capabilities. This enhancement improves the conductivity of the polymers by 2-3 orders of magnitude. The high conductivities observed for the polymers with nanoconfinements are correlated with their ability to form locally high concentrations of proton transport moieties. These polymers allow high conductivities at high temperatures, which can increase fuel cell efficiency, lower cost, simplify heat management, and provide better tolerance of the fuel cell catalysts against poisoning. 

Applications: 

Fuel cells, batteries, and solar cells 

Advantages: 
  • Nanoconfinement improves the conductivity of polymers by 2-3 orders of magnitude.
  • The novel polymers maintain high conductivity even above 100 °C, providing advantages over common proton exchange membranes, such as Nafion, that rely on solvent-assisted transport.
  • The novel polymers exhibit enhanced proton conductivity over a wide temperature range (40 to 200 °C tested) while remaining thermally stable.
  • Can potentially improve multiple aspects of fuel cell operation. 
Licensing Status: 
Available for Licensing or Sponsored Research
Patent Status: 

US Patent 8,519,074 issued

Docket: 
UMA 10-09
For More Information: 

Ling X. Shen, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Senior Licensing Officer
Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property
Phone: 413-545-5276
E-mail:  lxshen@research.umass.edu