The ion seeps tonight: Assessing ionic transport in multilayered nanocomposites

Conference Dates

November 10-14, 2019


Figure 6 – Schematic of cation (M+) transport through an organized multilayered composite.

Controlling ion transport across membranes and interfaces is one of the central themes challenging technological pursuits ranging from corrosion to energy storage and chemical separations. Here, we present several examples in which we have studied the application of multilayer nanocomposites to regulate ion transport. These composites comprise organized layers of functional or structural elements, integrated within composites such that the specific nanostructure and composition of the materials play important roles in defining ionic interactions and mobility. In cases such as corrosion inhibition, thin film composite coatings are intended to block ionic transport, retarding deleterious corrosion reactions. We show that by manipulating the materials chemistry of highly organized polymer clay nanocomposite thin film barriers, it is possible to significantly increase corrosion resistance of steel samples in a simulated sea water environment. In contrast, for energy storage applications such as batteries, composite separators capable of rapid ionic diffusion are desired for high current performance. We explore how layered composite structures may provide effective ion diffusion planes, leading to promising ionic conductivity in new solid state separators. Finally, in chemical separations, the selective transport of ions becomes important. We examine how manipulating the chemical and electrostatic composition of layered polyelectrolyte materials leads to preferential cation transport through these composite structures, a key property for an effective separations membrane. These different technologies exemplify how the principles governing ion transport through multilayered materials can be adapted for widely varied applications, and they illustrate the potential for this materials development strategy to enable new classes of functional composite materials.

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