Proton Transport


What controls the movement of protons between a series of basic sites? How do we achieve optimal proton transport?  Structure flexibility? or structure organization? or both? Does the proton jump from one site to other or do the bonds readjust? These questions are fundamental to our understanding of how protons move in many natural and synthetic systems.

In hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen gets oxidized at the anode and the resultant protons need to move to the cathode to facilitate the reduction of oxygen to water. A membrane separates the anode compartment from the cathode compartment. This membrane, currently Nafion, should rapidly transport hydrogen ion (H+) but not hydrogen (H2) molecule. Strategies to improve current membranes are largely Edisonian.

Our approach involves creating rigid scaffolds that help organize the proton conducting groups into specific solid structures that has flexibility and structural organization  for optimal proton transport.  In this project, we collaborate with Prof. Auerbach group and Prof. Mark Tuominen’s group at UMass Amherst.

Status: Dormant

Key Discoveries:

  • Introduced molecules based on squaric acid for proton transport
  • Introduced discotic LC-based systems for proton transport


What is the impact of mixing two proton-conducting heterocycles on proton conductivity? Herein we answer this question through our investigations on two linear rod-like compounds 2-(4-(dodecyloxy) phenyl)-1H-imidazole (4) and 5-(4-(dodecyloxy)…

We have modelled structures and dynamics of hydrogen bond networks that form from imidazoles tethered to oligomeric aliphatic backbones in crystalline and glassy phases. We have studied the behaviour of oligomers containing 5 or 10 imidazole groups.…

In this communication, we introduce squaric acid derivatives as anhydrous proton conductors. We report the synthesis, characterization and proton conductivities of four squaric acid derivatives. The anhydrous proton conductivity of one of the…