Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSE)


Mechanical Engineering

First Committee Member

Kwang J. Kim

Second Committee Member

Brendan O'Toole

Third Committee Member

Woosoon Yim

Fourth Committee Member

Dong-Chan Lee

Number of Pages



The ability to create an ion exchange membrane with any shape or thickness through custom manufacturing techniques is highly desirable in ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) research. This is caused by the poor selection and limited availability of certain thicknesses of commercial ion exchange membranes. The objective of this study is to determine the feasibility of manufacturing custom ion exchange membranes for IPMC sensors. The manufacturing methods used in this study are extrusion, injection molding, and hot pressing. A commercial membrane from Golden Energy Fuel Cells (GEFC) is used as a comparison. After the membranes are fabricated, certain properties of the membranes are tested throughout each processing stage to determine if they are suitable to be developed into IPMCs. The three processing stages are pre-activation, activation (hydrated and dehydrated), and IPMC. It was observed that the stiffness of the membranes increased from pre-activation to activation and decreased from activation to IPMC. A more flexible membrane in an IPMC allows for larger cation displacement within the membrane. The extruded and injection molded membranes showed the most potential with having the lowest stiffness of all the samples; however, they were not able to be made into IPMCs due to repeated membrane failures in the primary plating process. Gas accumulated between the layers that formed in the membranes due to the extrusion and injection molding cooling process during manufacturing. The hot pressed membrane was the only custom manufactured membrane to be fully processed into an IPMC. The hot pressed and GEFC IPMC sensors were operated at 1 Hz, 5 Hz, and 10 Hz frequencies with the GEFC IPMC producing the strongest output voltage signal. While the extruded and injection molded membranes showed potential to become IPMCs with their high water uptake percentage, high ion exchange capacity, and low stiffness, more development is needed within the manufacturing process to make a uniform sample that does not fail during chemical processing.


electroactive polymer; extrusion; fabrication; hot press; injection molding; manufacturing


Engineering Science and Materials | Materials Science and Engineering | Mechanical Engineering

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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