Surface plasmon resonance imaging: An inexpensive tool to study the water transport in thin film PFSA ionomers

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


The kinetics of water transport in confined thin film Perfluorinated sulfonic-acid (PFSA) ionomers is of vital importance in various applications such as a proton-exchange membrane or catalyst layers in polymer-electrolyte fuel cells. Advanced imaging techniques such as Neutron reflectivity, grazing-incidence x-ray scattering, and atomic force microscopy have been used for studying interfacial water transport in thin film ionomers. The instruments mentioned are considered high-end, expensive, super-resolution microscopes. The need for an expensive microscopic apparatus restricts many laboratories in developing countries from conducting experiments in the field of interfacial sciences such as visualization and in-situ measurement of water transport in thin film PFSA ionomers due to financial constraints, limited infrastructure, and lack of high-end technical support. Following the notion of portable and low-cost technologies, which is a vision of many researchers, we investigated the application of high-speed surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi) in the visualization of diffusion transport phenomena of water in thin film (7-250 nm) ionomers (Nafion and 3M). The preliminary results show that the water uptake in the thin film ionomers locally decreases the refractive index of the material, whose changes can be tracked by SPRi. This can provide the 3D map of diffusion during water transports through the thin film ionomer.

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ECS Meeting Abstracts