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Three-dimensional morphology of the interface between micro porous layer and catalyst layer in a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell

: Zielke, L.; Vierrath, S.; Moroni, R.; Mondon, A.; Zengerle, R.; Thiele, S.


RSC Advances 6 (2016), Nr.84, S.80700-80705
ISSN: 2046-2069
Fraunhofer ISE ()

Interfaces between the different layers in proton exchange membrane fuel cells are expected to influence transport properties and therefore cell performance. So far the interface between micro porous layer (MPL) and catalyst layer (CL) has been difficult to investigate due to its nanometer scale morphology. We apply focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy tomography with pore contrasting via atomic layer deposition to reconstruct a representative volume of 5.1 μm à 1.5 μm à 4.5 μm containing CL, MPL and their interface. We find that platinum in the CL results in brighter SEM image intensities, compared to the MPL. This allows (i) estimating the extension of the interfacial region (530 nm), (ii) evaluating Pt-content homogeneity in the CL and (iii) calculating the individual roughnesses for the CL (102 nm) and for the MPL (129 nm). We further calculate porosity, pore sizes, and oxygen diffusivities.