Proton-conducting electrolytes based on silylated and sulfonated polyetheretherketone: synthesis and characterization

Catia De Bonis, Alessandra D'Epifanio, Maria Luisa Di Vona, Barbara Mecheri, Enrico Traversa, Marcella Trombetta, Silvia Licoccia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A derivative of polyetheretherketone (PEEK) having sulfonic acid groups and silicon-containing substituents covalently bound to the aromatic backbone has been prepared as proton-exchange membrane material. The polymer 4 (PhSiSPEEK) has been synthesized via (i) sulfonation of PEEK up to 0.9 degree of sulfonation (DS, the number of sulfonic groups per repeat unit), (ii) conversion of sulfonated PEEK 1 (SPEEK09) into sulfonyl chlorinated derivative 2 (PEEKSO 2Cl), (iii) lithiation of 2 and subsequent addition of PhSiCl 3, followed by hydrolysis. The chemical structure of the synthesized polymers has been investigated by 1H NMR and 13C NMR and ATR/FTIR spectroscopy and their thermal stability has been evaluated by thermogravimetric analysis. The presence of inorganic moieties increases the thermal stability of 4 with respect to the sulfonated and not silylated product. Despite its very high DS, PhSiSPEEK is insoluble in water but does not possess the plastic properties needed to be used as an electrolyte membrane. Blend membranes made of SPEEK05 (DS = 0.5) and containing 10 and 25 wt % of 4 (DS = 0.9, degree of silylation DSi = 0.1) have been prepared and characterized by water uptake measurements and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. The combination of the two functionalized polymers having different properties allows to obtain proton-conducting electrolytes that are potential candidates for fuel cells applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2178-2186
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Blends
  • Conducting polymers
  • Functionalization of polymers
  • Membranes
  • Poly(ether ketones)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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