Polymer remembers four shapes

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study by General Motors has found that a polymer used commercially in fuel cell membranes can "memorize" four shapes, each assigned to a different temperature. The material could find applications in ...


Nafion is a sulfonated tetrafluoroethylene based fluoropolymer-copolymer discovered in the late 1960s by Walther Grot of DuPont. It is the first of a class of synthetic polymers with ionic properties which are called ionomers. Nafion's unique ionic properties are a result of incorporating perfluorovinyl ether groups terminated with sulfonate groups onto a tetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) backbone. Nafion has received a considerable amount of attention as a proton conductor for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells because of its excellent thermal and mechanical stability.

The chemical basis of Nafion's superior conductive properties remain a focus of research. Protons on the SO3H (sulfonic acid) groups "hop" from one acid site to another. Pores allow movement of cations but the membranes do not conduct anions or electrons. Nafion can be manufactured with various cationic conductivities.

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