Phosphonium ionomers have found utility as components of alkaline fuel cells, where they are used as hydroxide ion-transporting membranes. One of the problems associated with such cationic polymers is that many organic polymers and functional groups undergo potentially undesirable decomposition reactions in the presence of hydroxide ions due to hydroxides identity as a strong base and a good nucleophile. In this Creative Inquiry project we explored new routes to prepare tetraarylphosphonium ionomers and the decomposition pathways that occur in phosphonium polyelectrolytes. The structural influence on which decomposition pathways are possible and rate of decomposition will be discussed with the aim of revealing rational design principles that could improve the stability of phosphonium ionomers for use in alkaline environments.
Keen, Caitlin E.; Houjeiry, Tania I.; Creager, Stephen E.; and Smith, Rhett, "Stability and Reactivity of Cationic Polyelectrolytes in Alkaline Conditions" (2015). Focus on Creative Inquiry. 127.