Polymers having an improved ability to entrain water are characterized, in some embodiments, by unusual humidity-induced phase transitions. The described polymers (e.g., hydrophilically functionalized block copolymers) have a disordered state and one or more ordered states (e.g., a lamellar state, a gyroid state, etc.). In one aspect, the polymers are capable of undergoing a disorder-to-order transition while the polymer is exposed to an increasing temperature at a constant relative humidity. In some aspects the polymer includes a plurality of portions, wherein a first portion forms proton-conductive channels within the membrane and wherein the channels have a width of less than about 6 nm. The described polymers are capable of entraining and preserving water at high temperature and low humidity. Surprisingly, in some embodiments, the polymers are capable of entraining greater amounts of water with the increase of temperature. The polymers can be used in Polymer Electrolyte Membranes in fuel cells.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231 awarded by the United States Department of Energy to The Regents of the University of California for the management and operation of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The government has certain rights in this invention.