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Master of Science




Dr. Paul J. Ragogna


This dissertation focuses on the synthesis and characterization of phosphorus containing polymers for the purpose of polymer derived ceramics. These networks are composed of three different monomeric compounds, and it was found that changes to the stoichiometry of these resulted in different properties such as thermal stability and swellabilty. Through the analysis of these properties, optimal stoichiometries were decided upon that provided the best ceramic yield and were still able to swell in solvents. These polymeric candidates were then subjected to further reactions as the phosphorus sites present in the networks were tertiary phosphines (Lewis bases). Reacting these phosphines with a Lewis acid resulted in successful coordination. The resulting ceramics were characterized using SEM-EDX and XPS spectroscopies.

Summary for Lay Audience

Environmental degradation is increasing due to air pollution which creates high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Climate change is also prevalent and causes adverse environmental effects. The increasing dependence that society has on fossil fuels only harms the environment more. The burning of fossil fuels contributes to the overproduction of greenhouse gases which only serves to pollute the environment. Due to this, it is imperative that a solution be put into place to lower the harmful impacts that these fossil fuels have on the environment. Research is currently being done to lower the carbon footprint of gas-powered vehicles. This can be made possible by improving battery performance and producing electrocatalysts suitable for their desired application. Metal air batteries and fuel cells are being investigated as a replacement of the current lithium-ion battery, which is approaching its performance limit. For these replacements to be implemented, the development of more suitable electrocatalysts needs to be accomplished. Research thus far has suggested metal phosphides are a suitable candidate for the replacement, however the challenge is brought about through the synthesis of these materials. Throughout this thesis, various polymers are formed to help derive a material that is best suited for an electrocatalyst replacement. The incorporation of phosphorus and cobalt within the polymers followed by pyrolysis produces the desired metal phosphide. For these materials to be suitable, they need to obtain a high ceramic yield throughout pyrolysis which is difficult to achieve. Altering the starting materials in the original formulation produces different effects on the overall thermal stability of the polymer itself. Finding the optimal starting materials and the stoichiometry in which to use them will be imperative to determine if these materials are suitable replacements for the current electrocatalysts.