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Membranes 2012, 2(4), 783-803; doi:10.3390/membranes2040783

Microscopic Analysis of Current and Mechanical Properties of Nafion® Studied by Atomic Force Microscopy

1,* , 2,3
1 University of Applied Sciences Esslingen, Kanalstrasse 33, Esslingen 73728, Germany 2 German Aerospace Center, Institute of Technical Thermodynamics, Pfaffenwaldring 38-40, Stuttgart 70569, Germany 3 Institute for Thermodynamics and Thermal Engineering, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart 70550, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 July 2012 / Revised: 3 October 2012 / Accepted: 31 October 2012 / Published: 16 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membranes for Electrochemical Energy Applications)
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The conductivity of fuel cell membranes as well as their mechanical properties at the nanometer scale were characterized using advanced tapping mode atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques. AFM produces high-resolution images under continuous current flow of the conductive structure at the membrane surface and provides some insight into the bulk conducting network in Nafion membranes. The correlation of conductivity with other mechanical properties, such as adhesion force, deformation and stiffness, were simultaneously measured with the current and provided an indication of subsurface phase separations and phase distribution at the surface of the membrane. The distribution of conductive pores at the surface was identified by the formation of water droplets. A comparison of nanostructure models with high-resolution current images is discussed in detail.
Keywords: Nafion; AFM; current; adhesion; stiffness; nanostructure; model Nafion; AFM; current; adhesion; stiffness; nanostructure; model
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Hiesgen, R.; Helmly, S.; Galm, I.; Morawietz, T.; Handl, M.; Friedrich, K.A. Microscopic Analysis of Current and Mechanical Properties of Nafion® Studied by Atomic Force Microscopy. Membranes 2012, 2, 783-803.

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