High-activity fuel cell catalyst layers via block copolymer nanocomposites

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Alabi, Toheeb Bola
Iowa State University; Digital Repository @ Iowa State University
thesis / dissertation description
Current polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) catalyst layers are disordered blends of carbon-supported platinum catalyst in an ionomeric matrix. The objective of this research was to design preliminary materials for a self-assembling Pt/SWNT/block copolymer catalyst nanocomposite system for use in a PEMFC catalyst layer. Initial work toward this goal was conducted. Platinum nanoparticles were deposited on SWNTs by way of facile reduction in ethylene glycol, as proven by TGA and TEM. Graft polymerizations of polystyrene from oxidized SWNTs via ATRP reaction and pristine SWNTs via anionic polymerization were successful. The polystyrene brushes displayed improved solubility in organic solvents over pristine SWNTs. Further analysis of the brushes was performed using TEM and FTIR spectroscopy.