Bioengineering, Vol. 10, Pages 622: Differences in Water Dynamics between the Hydrated Chitin and Hydrated Chitosan Determined by Quasi-Elastic Neutron Scattering
Bioengineering doi: 10.3390/bioengineering10050622
Recently, it was reported that chitin and chitosan exhibited high-proton conductivity and function as an electrolyte in fuel cells. In particular, it is noteworthy that proton conductivity in the hydrated chitin becomes 30 times higher than that in the hydrated chitosan. Since higher proton conductivity is necessary for the fuel cell electrolyte, it is significantly important to clarify the key factor for the realization of higher proton conduction from a microscopic viewpoint for the future development of fuel cells. Therefore, we have measured proton dynamics in the hydrated chitin using quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS) from the microscopic viewpoint and compared the proton conduction mechanism between hydrated chitin and chitosan. QENS results exhibited that a part of hydrogen atoms and hydration water in chitin are mobile even at 238 K, and the mobile hydrogen atoms and their diffusion increase with increasing temperature. It was found that the diffusion constant of mobile protons is two times larger and that the residence time is two times faster in chitin than that in chitosan. In addition, it is revealed from the experimental results that the transition process of dissociable hydrogen atoms between chitin and chitosan is different. To realize proton conduction in the hydrated chitosan, the hydrogen atoms of the hydronium ions (H3O+) should be transferred to another hydration water. By contrast, in hydrated chitin, the hydrogen atoms can transfer directly to the proton acceptors of neighboring chitin. It is deduced that higher proton conductivity in the hydrated chitin compared with that in the hydrated chitosan is yielded by the difference of diffusion constant and the residence time by hydrogen-atom dynamics and the location and number of proton acceptors.
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