The catalyst layer and its dimensionality - a look into its ingredients and how to characterize their effects
Development of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells throughout the years is established through its component optimization. This is especially true of its catalyst layer, where structuring of the layer has led to many breakthroughs. The catalyst layer acts as the heart of the cell, where it controls the half-cell reactions and their products. The complex nature of various transport phenomena simultaneously taking place in the layer requires the layer to be heterogeneous in structure. Hence, a delicate balance of the layer's ingredients, coupled with the understanding of the ingredients' interaction, is required. State-of-the-art catalyst layers are composed of a catalyst, its support, a solvent and a binder. Changes in the morphology, structure or material of any of these components ultimately affects the layer's activity and durability. In this review paper, we provide an overview of the various works tailored to understand how each component in the catalyst's ink affects the stability and life-time of the layer.