Surface Properties of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Cathodes

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) have the potential to be environmentally friendly and efficient sources of electric power that can run on many different types of fuels, including hydrogen.  However, for SOFCs to reach large scale commercial viability requires that new metal oxide materials be developed that exhibit unusual electron and ion transport properties, and are catalytically active at temperatures in the range of 650° to 850°.  Key to the rational design of such materials is the development of a fundamental quantum mechanical understanding of the chemical reactions that occur at the oxide cathode interfaces in SOFCs.  Our program seeks to use the array of synchrotron radiation-based spectroscopies at our disposal to probe these chemical reactions, as well as the electronic structure of the various oxides and their surfaces and interfaces that exist in a functioning SOFC.