Reactive coaxial electrospinning of ZrP/ZrO2 nanofibres†
Zirconium phosphate/zirconium oxide nanofibres have been fabricated using a novel, reactive coaxial electrospinning approach. In this approach, a zirconium precursor and a phosphorus source are spun together from separate solutions, using a coaxial needle, in order to delay formation of zirconium phosphate gel. The reaction between the zirconium and phosphorus sources is considered to initiate at the interface region in the coaxial fibres. The resultant nanofibres are calcined and further treated with H3PO4. The formation of ZrP/ZrO2 nanofibres was confirmed using 31P MAS NMR. Electron microscopy shows that the fibre morphology depends on solution parameters, and the X-ray amorphous fibres exhibit compositional homogeneity. Incorporation of the nanofibres into the short-side-chain perfluorosulfonic acid ionomer Aquivion™ yields membranes having significantly increased mechanical properties with greater elastic modulus and yield point as well as increased proton conductivity compared to both cast and commercial Aquivion™ membranes.