Sulfonated polyelectrolyte membranes (PEMs), such as Nafion and styrene-olefin block copolymers, are explored as permselective membranes for fuel cells as well as suitable barrier materials against chemical agents. The permselective properties of PEM are determined by their microphase segregation into hydrophilic and hydrophobic domains. We performed classical molecular dynamics simulations of solvation of the hydrophilic fragments of PEM exemplified on sulfonated polystyrene (sPS) with potassium, calcium, and aluminum as counterions, in water, phosphor-organic nerve agent simulant dimethylmethylphosphonate (DMMP), and their binary mixture. The force field for the sulfonate group has been developed by optimizing the potential parameters to fit the benzenesulfonate conformations obtained from the density functional theory. For a comparison, we considered perfluorosulfonate oligomers representing fragments of Nafion polymer. We found a noticeable difference between the geometries of the polymer backbone in different solvents. The polymer backbone is stiffer in DMMP for both sPS and Nafion. An anisotropic structuring of the solvent around the phenylsulfonate group is substantially stronger than around the Nafion sidechain due to the rigidity and the anisotropy of the phenylsulfonate group. The counterion significantly affects the conformations of solvated sPS: the rigidity of the backbone increases when potassium or calcium ions are replaced by trivalent aluminum ions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Physics and Astronomy
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry