Ion Beam Preparation Techniques to Reveal Evolution of Advanced SOFC Anode Microstructures

  • Supervisors: Dr Mark Cassidy (University St Andrews), Prof John Irvine (University of St Andrews), Mr Alan Davidson (Edinburgh Napier University)
  • Sponsoring Company: MCS Ltd
  • PhD Student: Lanying Lu
  • This student has graduated and the project is complete.

The ability of electrochemical devices such as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and solid oxide electrolysers (SOEC) to efficiently convert between electrical and chemical energy could act as an enabler for the widespread realisation of renewable energy technologies. However to fully realise the potential of these devices further work is required developing advanced electrode structures.  

A promising avenue of research is the deposition of catalytic materials onto support structures. This allows highly engineered microstructures to be created, with the formation of complex oxides and catalysts, some containing fine nano-structures. The presence of these nano-structures has only recently been recognised and the exact nature and mechanism by which they form, and then evolve is not yet clear. 

The aim of this project is to use ion beam techniques to prepare high quality cross-sections of various skeletal and coated structures and use high resolution FEG-SEM techniques to reveal their microstructures and interfaces. From this, how changes in the coating deposition procedures impact the microstructures and interfaces, what influence these have on performance in a fuel cell and how longer-term operation subsequently affect the materials can be studied. This knowledge can then be used to optimise the future development of materials and morphologies.

“MCS Ltd has a strong interest in developing cutting edge materials preparation and analysis techniques which will be of benefit to companies developing products for the energy sector and beyond. The knowledge and techniques developed in this project will help enhance vital materials expertise in Scotland which will be important in boosting a high technology industrial base.”  MCS Ltd