A solid polymer electrolyte composite membrane and method of manufacturing the same. According to one embodiment, the composite membrane comprises a rigid, non-electrically-conducting support, the support preferably being a sheet of polyimide having a thickness of about 7.5 to 15 microns. The support has a plurality of cylindrical pores extending perpendicularly between opposing top and bottom surfaces of the support. The pores, which preferably have a diameter of about 0.1 to 5 microns, are made by plasma etching and preferably are arranged in a defined pattern, for example, with fewer pores located in areas of high membrane stress and more pores located in areas of low membrane stress. The pores are filled with a first solid polymer electrolyte, such as a perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) polymer. A second solid polymer electrolyte, which may be the same as or different than the first solid polymer electrolyte, may be deposited over the top and/or bottom of the first solid polymer electrolyte.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms of Contract No. DE-FG36-04GO13029 awarded by the Department of Energy.