Surface-initiated growth of ionomer films from Pt-modified gold electrodes

Brad J. Berron, Christopher J. Faulkner, Remington E. Fischer, P. Andrew Payne, G. Kane Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The ability to chemically wire ionomer films to electrode surfaces can promote transport near interfaces and impact a host of energy-related applications. Here, we demonstrate proof-of-concept principles for the surface-initiated ring-opening metathesis polymerization (SI-ROMP) of norbornene (NB), 5-butylnorbornene (NBH4), and 5-perfluorobu-tylnorbornene (NBF4) from Pt-modified gold substrates and the subsequent sulfonation of olefins along the polymer backbones to produce ultrathin sulfonated polymer films. Prior to sulfonation, the films are hydrophobic and exhibit large barriers against ion transport, but sulfonation dramatically reduces the resistance of the films by providing pathways for proton diffusion. Sulfonated films derived from NBF4 and NBH4 yield more anodic potentials for oxygen reduction than those derived from NB or unfunctionalized electrodes. These improvements are consistent with hydrophobic structuring by the fluorocarbon or hydrocarbon side groups to minimize interfacial flooding and generate pathways for enhanced O2 permeation near the interface. Importantly, we demonstrate that the sulfonated polymer chains remain anchored to the surface during voltammetry for oxygen reduction whereas short-chain thiolates that do not tether polymer are removed from the substrate. This approach, which we extend to unmodified gold electrodes at neutral pH, presents a method of cleaning the ionomer/electrode interface to remove molecular components that may hamper the performance of the electrode.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12721-12728
Number of pages8
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 3 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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