A double-layer ionomer membrane, thin-layer Nafion (perfluorinated sulfonic acid polymer) on a sulfonated aromatic block copolymer (SPK-bl-1), was prepared for improving fuel cell performance. Each component of the double-layer membrane showed similar phase-separated morphologies to those of the original membranes. A fuel cell with the double-layer membrane exhibited lower ohmic resistance and higher cathode performance than those with the original SPK-bl-1 membrane despite their comparable water uptake and proton conductivity. Detailed electrochemical analyses of fuel cell data suggested that the thin Nafion interlayer contributed to improving the interfacial contact between the SPK-bl-1 membrane and the cathode catalyst layer and to mitigating excessive drying of the membrane. The results provide new insight on designing high-performance fuel cells with nonfluorinated ionomer membranes such as sulfonated aromatic polymers.
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