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Dynamics and Proton Transport in Imidazole-Doped Nanocrystalline Cellulose Revealed by High-Resolution Solid-State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 20.08.2020, 11:36 by Michal̷ Bielejewski, Monica Pinto-Salazar, L̷ukasz Lindner, Radosl̷aw Pankiewicz, Gerd Buntkowsky, Jadwiga Tritt-Goc
Imidazole-doped nanocrystalline cellulose (CNC-Im) is a new proton conductor based on imidazole-functionalized nanocrystalline cellulose with a conductivity of approximately 10–1 S/m at 160 °C. Its conductivity is possible due to the transport of protons from imidazoles. The dynamics of local processes were studied by 15N and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy under the conditions of 1H–15N and 1H–13C cross-polarization (CP) and magic angle spinning (MAS) and by heteronuclear correlation (HETCOR) spectroscopy. The 15N and 13C NMR spectra showed the coexistence of two fractions of imidazole molecules: slowly reorienting and exchanging protons and fast reorienting and fast exchanging protons. Analysis based on the two-phase model enabled the determination of the energy distribution of imidazole tautomerization, whose maximum value is 38 kJ/mol. The HETCOR experiment allowed determination of the binding of nitrogen protons from imidazoles to cellulose hydroxyl groups and possibly residual water. NMR studies conducted on the 13C isotope confirmed the reorientation of imidazoles. The proton transport in CNC-Im was shown to consist in the exchange of protons between imidazoles via the OH groups of cellulose and residual water conditioned by the reorientation of imidazole rings. The described proton transport leads to the observed conductivity in CNC-Im, assuming the dissociation of imidazole into anion and cation additionally.