Electrode catalyst (platinum) degradation represents a major challenge to the performance and durability of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) in Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs). While various mechanisms have been proposed and investigated previously, there is still a need to develop in situ imaging techniques that can characterize and provide direct evidence to confirm the degradation process. In the present study, we report an in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) method that enables real time, high-resolution observation of carbon-supported platinum nanoparticles in liquid electrolyte under working conditions. By improving the design of the Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sample holder, the migration and aggregation of neighboring platinum nanoparticles could be visualized consistently and correlated to applied electrode potentials during aging process (i.e., cyclic voltammetry cycles). It can be expected that information acquired through this novel approach would provide valuable insight that may lead to the optimal design of new electrode catalysts to resolve the catalyst degradation issue.
Development and and characterization of custom MEMS electrochemistry E-chips for use with Protochips’ Poseidon holder for in situ liquid cell TEM experiements.
Keywords: Electrochemistry; Fuel Cells