Single-Layer Graphene Sandwiched between Proton-Exchange Membranes for Selective Proton Transmission

Saheed Bukola, Kyle Beard, Carol Korzeniewski, Joel M. Harris, Stephen E. Creager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Proton transmission through single-layer CVD graphene in graphene/proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) sandwich structures is found to be more than 100 times faster than for any other cation. Ion transmission rates were measured for protons and a series of other cations including Li+, Na+, K+, Rb+, Cs+, and NH4 + using a four-electrode method in which two platinum electrodes drive ionic current through the membrane and two reference electrodes installed in Luggin capillaries sense the transmembrane potential difference induced by the forced ion flow. Characterization studies including confocal Raman microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy for graphene on Nafion, and defect visualization by etching through defects for graphene on copper, are also reported. All findings are consistent with a defect-based mechanism for transmission through graphene of all cations except protons, which likely follow a different mechanism, perhaps involving high-rate transmission through sites at which transmission of other ions is forbidden. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) was also used to study ion transmission rates through graphene in PEM sandwich structures. EIS gave much lower resistances for ion transmission through graphene than were obtained using the four-electrode method. This latter finding is thought to reflect a capacitive coupling of mobile ions with/through graphene at the high frequencies (up to 100 kHz) used in the EIS measurement. Near-steady-state dc methods are thus necessary to evaluate true ion transmission rates through graphene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)964-974
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 22 2019


  • 2D material
  • Nafion
  • graphene
  • ion transmission
  • nanopore
  • proton exchange membrane


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