Perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) polymer membranes are widely used as proton exchange membranes. Because the structure of the aqueous domain within the PFSA membrane is expected to directly influence proton conductance, many coarse-grained (CG) simulation studies have been performed to investigate the membrane morphology; these studies mostly used phenomenological models, such as dissipative particle dynamics. However, a chemically accurate CG model is required to investigate the morphology in realistic membranes and to provide a concrete molecular design. Here, we attempt to construct a predictive CG model for the structure and morphology of PFSA membranes that is compatible with the Sinoda-DeVane-Klein (SDK) CG water model [Shinoda et al., Mol. Simul. 33, 27 (2007)]. First, we extended the parameter set for the SDK CG force field to examine a hydrated PFSA membrane based on thermodynamic and structural data from experiments and all-atom (AA) molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. However, a noticeable degradation of the morphology motivated us to improve the structural properties by using the iterative Boltzmann inversion (IBI) approach. Thus, we explored a possible combination of the SDK and IBI approaches to describe the nonbonded interaction. The hybrid SDK/IBI model improved the structural issues of SDK, showing a better agreement with AA-MD in the radial distribution functions. The hybrid SDK/IBI model was determined to reasonably reproduce both the thermodynamic and structural properties of the PFSA membrane for all examined water contents. In addition, the model demonstrated good transferability and has considerable potential for application to realistic long-chained PFSA membranes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry