Researchers synthesize new thin-film material for use in fuel cells

March 10, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 10, 2015 -- Researchers from Cornell University have synthesized a new thin-film catalyst for use in fuel cells. In a paper published March 10 in the journal APL Materials, from AIP Publishing, the team reports the first-ever epitaxial thin-film growth of Bi2Pt2O7 pyrochlore, which could act as a more effective cathode -- a fundamental electrode component of fuel cells from which positive current flows through an external circuit delivering electric power.

"Up to now, research on oxygen catalysts in thin film form for clean-energy applications has been focused on the perovskite-structured oxides and their structural derivatives," said lead researcher Araceli Gutierrez-Llorente. "The much less studied cubic pyrochlore structure is an appealing alternative to perovskites for such applications as fuel cell cathodes."

The pyrochlore in question -- Bi2Pt2O7 -- has previously been successfully synthesized as a nanocrystalline powder. Epitaxial thin films can actually act as more efficient fuel cell catalysts than nanocrystalline powder, but growing Bi2Pt2O7 directly as a film requires oxidizing the platinum metal -- a challenging step.

The team used pulsed laser deposition to co-deposit epitaxial δ-Bi2O3 and disordered platinum. Annealing the film in air forced the platinum to oxidize and encouraged the formation of epitaxial Bi2Pt2O7 crystals about 100 nanometers in length.

"Our results provide the only currently-known method to form epitaxial Bi2Pt2O7, thought to be one of the most promising oxide catalysts for fuel cell applications," said Gutierrez-Llorente. The cathode of a solid oxide fuel cell electrochemically reduces oxygen. Bi2PtO7's oxygen-deficient structure makes it an ideal catalyst for the process.

Synthesizing the material as a thin film instead of as a bulk powder opens up new possibilities for fuel cell technology. "A huge range of surprising properties that cannot be attained in the bulk form can be generated at the interface between complex oxides in thin film form," said Gutierrez-Llorente.
The article, "Epitaxial crystals of Bi2Pt2O7 pyrochlore through the transformation of δ-Bi2O3 fluorite," is authored by Araceli Gutierrez-Llorente, Howie Joress, Arthur Woll, Megan E. Holtz, Matthew J. Ward, Matthew C. Sullivan, David A. Muller and Joel D. Brock. It will be published in APL Materials on March 10, 2015 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4908103). After that date, it can be accessed at:


APL Materials is a new open access journal featuring original research on significant topical issues within the field of functional materials science. See:

American Institute of Physics

Related Fuel Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

Fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles are becoming longer lasting
An international research team led by the University of Bern has succeeded in developing an electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells which, in contrast to the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier and is therefore much more stable.

Scientists develop new material for longer-lasting fuel cells
New research suggests that graphene -- made in a specific way -- could be used to make more durable hydrogen fuel cells for cars

AI could help improve performance of lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells
Imperial College London researchers have demonstrated how machine learning could help design lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells with better performance.

Engineers develop new fuel cells with twice the operating voltage as hydrogen
Engineers at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St.

Iodide salts stabilise biocatalysts for fuel cells
Contrary to theoretical predictions, oxygen inactivates biocatalysts for energy conversion within a short time, even under a protective film.

Instant hydrogen production for powering fuel cells
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing and Tsinghua University, Beijing investigate real-time, on-demand hydrogen generation for use in fuel cells, which are a quiet and clean form of energy.

Ammonia for fuel cells
Researchers at the University of Delaware have identified ammonia as a source for engineering fuel cells that can provide a cheap and powerful source for fueling cars, trucks and buses with a reduced carbon footprint.

Microorganisms build the best fuel efficient hydrogen cells
With billions of years of practice, nature has created the most energy efficient machines.

Atomically precise models improve understanding of fuel cells
Simulations from researchers in Japan provide new insights into the reactions occurring in solid-oxide fuel cells by using realistic atomic-scale models of the electrode active site based on microscope observations instead of the simplified and idealized atomic structures employed in previous studies.

New core-shell catalyst for ethanol fuel cells
Scientists at Brookhaven Lab and the University of Arkansas have developed a highly efficient catalyst for extracting electrical energy from ethanol, an easy-to-store liquid fuel that can be generated from renewable resources.

Read More: Fuel Cells News and Fuel Cells Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to