π-Conjugated Polymers and Fuel Cells: The common theme of this research program is the role of structure and morphology on the properties of Advanced Functional Polymers. The program bridges polymer synthesis, materials science, organic electronics, electrochemistry, and fuel cell science.
One theme concerns the polymer science and electrochemistry of Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells and Fuel Cell technology. Fuel cells are akin to batteries in which the reagents, often gases, are continually fed to electrodes. When the fuel and oxidant are hydrogen and oxygen, respectively, the product is water and electricity. This research program involves monomer, polymer, and membrane synthesis; physical characterization of proton conducting membranes; solid-state electrochemistry in polymeric media, the study of gas diffusion electrodes and fuel cells. Prof. Holdcroft was also affiliated with NRC’s Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation for 12 years, where he headed a research team investigating the design of next-generation membrane-electrode-assemblies.
The other research theme concerns electronic and optical properties of π-conjugated polymer films. The goal is to understand relationships between structure and function. This program contributes to a science we term macromolecular electronics- a rapidly emerging discipline that bridges molecular electronics and conventional microelectronics. Our strategy is first to understand how the structure of polymers at the molecular, conformational and solid state level affects electrical and optical properties, and secondly, to control and manipulate these properties. We use this information to synthesize and study new polymeric materials onto which specific properties are conferred by choice and design. These properties may include one, or a combination, of the following: electrical conductivity, semiconductivity, electroluminescence, photoreaction, self-assembly and long-range molecular order, and photovoltaics.
A brief synopsis of our Fuel Cell and π-Conjugated Polymer research programs at SFU is provided in the links on the left.