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Proton conduction in structured water

Objective

In recent years water near surfaces and solutes has been observed to be differently structured and
to show slower reorientation and hydrogen-bond dynamics than in bulk. Aqueous proton transfer is
a process that strongly relies on the structure and dynamics of the hydrogen-bond network of liquid
water and that often occurs near surfaces. Examples are thylakoid and mitochondrial membranes and
the nanochannels of transmembrane proteins and fuel cells. An important but experimentally largely
unexplored area of research is how the rate and mechanism of aqueous proton transfer change due to
the surface-induced structuring of the water medium. Theoretical work showed that the structuring and
nano-confinement of water can have a strong effect on the proton mobility. Recently, experimental tech-
niques have been developed that are capable of probing the structural dynamics of water molecules and
proton-hydration structures near surfaces. These techniques include heterodyne detected sum-frequency
generation (HD-SFG) and two-dimensional HD-SFG (2D-HD-VSFG).

I propose to use these and other advanced spectroscopic techniques to study the rate and molecular mech-
anisms of proton transfer through structured aqueous media. These systems include aqueous solutions
of different solutes, water near extended surfaces like graphene and electrically switchable monolayers,
and the aqueous nanochannels of metal-organic frameworks. These studies will provide a fundamen-
tal understanding of the molecular mechanisms of aqueous proton transfer in natural and man-made
(bio)molecular systems, and can lead to the development of new proton-conducting membranes and
nanochannels with applications in fuel cells. The obtained knowledge can also lead to new strategies
to control proton mobility, e.g. by electrical switching of the properties of the water network at surfaces
and in nanochannels, i.e. to field-effect proton transistors.

Host institution

STICHTING NEDERLANDSE WETENSCHAPPELIJK ONDERZOEK INSTITUTEN
Net EU contribution
€ 2 495 000,00
Address
Winthontlaan 2
3526 KV Utrecht
Netherlands

See on map

Region
West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)

STICHTING NEDERLANDSE WETENSCHAPPELIJK ONDERZOEK INSTITUTEN
Netherlands
Net EU contribution
€ 2 495 000,00
Address
Winthontlaan 2
3526 KV Utrecht

See on map

Region
West-Nederland Utrecht Utrecht
Activity type
Research Organisations
Other funding
€ 0,00