Ru,Rh,Ru Supramolecular Photocatalysts within Nafion® Membranes: Ion-exchange, Photoelectrolysis and Electron Transfer Processes

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

Perfluorosulfonate ionomers, such as Nafion® have been shown to demonstrate a profound affinity for large cationic complexes, and the study of polymer-bound cations may provide insight regarding Nafion® morphology by contrasting molecular size with existing models. The trimetallic complex, [{(bpy)2Ru(dpp)}2RhBr2] 5+, is readily absorbed by ion exchange into Na+ -form Nafion® membranes under ambient conditions. The dimensions of three different isomers of the trimetallic complex are estimated to be: 23.6 Å × 13.3 Å × 10.8 Å, 18.9 Å × 18.0 Å × 13.7 Å, and 23.1 Å × 12.0 Å × 11.4 Å, yielding an average molecular volume of 1.2×103 Å3 . At equilibrium, the partition coefficient for the ion-exchange of the trimetallic complex into Nafion® from a DMF solution is 5.7 × 103 . Furthermore, the total cationic charge of the exchanged trimetallic complexes counterbalances 86 ± 2% of the anionic SO3 − sites in Nafion®. The characteristic dimensions of morphological models for the ionic domains in Nafion® are comparable to the molecular dimensions of the large mixedmetal complexes. Surprisingly, SAXS analysis indicates that the complexes absorb into the ionic domains of Nafion® without significantly changing the ionomer morphology. Given the profound affinity for absorption of these large cationic molecules, a more open-channel model for the morphology of perfluorosulfonate ionomers is more reasonable, in agreement with recent experimental findings. In contrast to smaller monometallic complexes, the time- v dependent uptake of the large trimetallic cations is biexponential. This behavior is attributed to a fast initial ion-exchange process on the surface of the membrane, accompanied by a slower, transport-limited ion-exchange for sites in the interior of the ionomer matrix.

The development of Nafion®/[{(bpy)2Ru(dpp)}2RhBr2] 5+ modified electrodes is also described for both FTO electrodes and materials made from electrospun carbon mats. The [{(bpy)2Ru(dpp)}2RhBr2] 5+ complexes behave as photocatalytic hydrogen production catalysts in the Nafion® membrane. Furthermore, a second bulk photoelectrolysis experiment with the Nafion®/[{(bpy)2Ru(dpp)}2RhBr2] 5+/FTO electrodes shows an enhancement of catalytic activity compared to the first photoelectrolysis experiment. This enhancement is attributed to halide loss following the first reduction process. Lastly, electrospun carbon nanofiber mats behave as electron donor materials for [{(bpy)2Ru(dpp)}2RhBr2] 5+/Nafion® membranes.

Photocatalysis, photoelectrolysis, hydrogen production, ruthenium, rhodium, ionomer, Nafion®, ion-exchange, carbon electron donor, polymer bound catalysts, guest-host systems, supramolecular affinity