Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > ORNL Microscopy Generates New View of Fuel Cells

ORNL

A new ORNL microscopy technique allows researchers to study key reactions in fuel cells at an unprecedented scale. The overlay shows electrochemical activity of platinum (Pt) nanoparticles on an yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) surface, revealing enhanced activity along the triple-phase boundaries (TPB).
ORNL

A new ORNL microscopy technique allows researchers to study key reactions in fuel cells at an unprecedented scale. The overlay shows electrochemical activity of platinum (Pt) nanoparticles on an yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) surface, revealing enhanced activity along the triple-phase boundaries (TPB).

Abstract:
A novel microscopy method at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is helping scientists probe the reactions that limit widespread deployment of fuel cell technologies.

ORNL Microscopy Generates New View of Fuel Cells

Oak Ridge, TN | Posted on August 15th, 2011

ORNL researchers applied a technique called electrochemical strain microscopy that enables them to examine the dynamics of oxygen reduction/evolution reactions in fuel cell materials, which may reveal ways to redesign or cut the costs of the energy devices. The team's findings were published in Nature Chemistry.

"If we can find a way to understand the operation of the fuel cell on the basic elementary level and determine what will make it work in the most optimum fashion, it would create an entirely new window of opportunity for the development of better materials and devices," said co-author Amit Kumar, a research scientist at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.

Although fuel cells have long been touted as a highly efficient way to convert chemical energy into electrical energy, their high cost -- in large part due to the use of platinum as a catalyst -- has constrained commercial production and consumption.

Large amounts of platinum are used to catalyze the fuel cell's key reaction -- -the oxygen-reduction reaction, which controls the efficiency and longevity of the cell. Yet exactly how and where the reaction takes place had not been probed because existing device-level electrochemical techniques are ill suited to study the reaction at the nanoscale. ORNL co-author Sergei Kalinin explains that certain methods like electron microscopy had failed to capture the dynamics of fuel cell operation because their resolution was effectively too high.

"When you want to understand how a fuel cell works, you are not interested in where single atoms are, you're interested in how they move in nanometer scale volumes," Kalinin said. "The mobile ions in these solids behave almost like a liquid. They don't stay in place. The faster these mobile ions move, the better the material is for a fuel cell application. Electrochemical strain microscopy is able to image this ion mobility."

Other electrochemical techniques are unable to study oxygen-reduction reactions because they are limited to resolutions of 10's of microns - 10,000 times larger than a nanometer.

"If the reaction is controlled by microstructure features that are much finer than a micron, let's say grain boundaries or single extended defects that are affecting the reaction, then you will never be able to catch what is giving rise to reduced or enhanced functionality of the fuel cell," said ORNL's Stephen Jesse, builder of the ESM microscope. "You would like to do this probing on a scale where you can identify each of these defects and correlate the functionality of the cell with these defects."

Although this study mainly focuses on the introduction of a technique, researchers explain their approach as a much-needed bridge between a theoretical and applied understanding of fuel cells.

"There is a huge gap between fundamental science and applied science for energy-related devices like fuel cells and batteries," Kalinin said. "The semiconducting industry, for example, is developing exponentially because the link between application and basic science is very well established. This is not the case in energy systems. They are usually much more complicated than semiconductors and therefore a lot of development is driven by trial and error type of work."

Co-authors on the study are University of Heidelberg's Francesco Ciucci and Anna Morozovska from the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, whose theoretical analysis was critical in explaining the ESM measurements.

This research was conducted at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL. CNMS is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers supported by the DOE Office of Science, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit science.energy.gov/bes/suf/user-facilities/nanoscale-science-research-centers/.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Morgan McCorkle
Communications and Media Relations
(865) 574-7308

Copyright © Oak Ridge National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

From brittle to plastic in 1 breath: Rice University theorists show environments can alter 2-D materials' basic properties May 4th, 2015

Nanoparticles in consumer products can significantly alter normal gut microbiome May 4th, 2015

New Nanodrug Produced in Iran from Milk Thistle May 4th, 2015

Antibacterial Ceramic Nanoparticles, Appropriate Material for Medical Devices May 3rd, 2015

Production of Industrial Nano-Membrane for Water, Wastewater Purification Device in Iran May 2nd, 2015

Imaging

Time Dependant Spectroscopy of Microscopic Samples: CRAIC TimePro™ software is used with CRAIC Technologies microspectrometers to measure the kinetic UV-visible-NIR, Raman and fluorescence spectra of microscopic sample areas May 2nd, 2015

ORNL researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument May 2nd, 2015

Novel superconducting undulator provides first x-ray light at ANKA May 1st, 2015

Laboratories

ORNL researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument May 2nd, 2015

Chemists strike nano-gold: 4 new atomic structures for gold nanoparticle clusters: Research builds upon work by Nobel Prize-winning team from Stanford University April 28th, 2015

More is less in novel electronic material: Adding electrons actually shrinks the system April 27th, 2015

Chemistry

Chemists strike nano-gold: 4 new atomic structures for gold nanoparticle clusters: Research builds upon work by Nobel Prize-winning team from Stanford University April 28th, 2015

Scientists join forces to reveal the mass and shape of single molecules April 27th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

From brittle to plastic in 1 breath: Rice University theorists show environments can alter 2-D materials' basic properties May 4th, 2015

ORNL researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument May 2nd, 2015

Making robots more human April 29th, 2015

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine April 29th, 2015

Discoveries

From brittle to plastic in 1 breath: Rice University theorists show environments can alter 2-D materials' basic properties May 4th, 2015

Nanoparticles in consumer products can significantly alter normal gut microbiome May 4th, 2015

Antibacterial Ceramic Nanoparticles, Appropriate Material for Medical Devices May 3rd, 2015

ORNL researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument May 2nd, 2015

Announcements

From brittle to plastic in 1 breath: Rice University theorists show environments can alter 2-D materials' basic properties May 4th, 2015

Nanoparticles in consumer products can significantly alter normal gut microbiome May 4th, 2015

New Nanodrug Produced in Iran from Milk Thistle May 4th, 2015

Antibacterial Ceramic Nanoparticles, Appropriate Material for Medical Devices May 3rd, 2015

Tools

Oxford Instruments announces winners of the 2015 Sir Martin Wood Science Prize for China May 2nd, 2015

Nanometrics to Present at the B. Riley & Co. 16th Annual Investor Conference May 2nd, 2015

Time Dependant Spectroscopy of Microscopic Samples: CRAIC TimePro™ software is used with CRAIC Technologies microspectrometers to measure the kinetic UV-visible-NIR, Raman and fluorescence spectra of microscopic sample areas May 2nd, 2015

ORNL researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument May 2nd, 2015

Energy

Engineering a better solar cell: UW research pinpoints defects in popular perovskites May 1st, 2015

Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine April 29th, 2015

Unique microscopic images provide new insights into ionic liquids April 28th, 2015

ISDC To Showcase Northrop Grumman/Caltech Push Toward Space Solar Power April 28th, 2015

Fuel Cells

Unique microscopic images provide new insights into ionic liquids April 28th, 2015

Expanding the reach of metallic glass April 22nd, 2015

Newly-Developed Nanocatalysts Increase Performance of Fuel Cells April 16th, 2015

Cobalt film a clean-fuel find: Rice University discovery is efficient, robust at drawing hydrogen and oxygen from water April 15th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project