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Thin film cathodes in SOFC research: How to identify oxygen reduction pathways?

  • Alexander K. Opitz (a1), Markus Kubicek (a1), Stefanie Huber (a1), Tobias Huber (a1), Gerald Holzlechner (a1), Herbert Hutter (a1) and Jürgen Fleig (a1)...


The considerable potential of model-type thin film electrodes for the investigation of oxygen exchange pathways is demonstrated for different electrode materials on yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ). In particular, a correlation of voltage-driven 18O tracer experiments and electrical ac and dc measurements has proven to be helpful when aiming at mechanistic conclusions. For Pt electrodes, two different parallel reaction pathways can be identified under equilibrium conditions. At lower temperatures, a diffusion limited path through the electrode is dominant, whereas at higher temperatures, an electrode surface path with oxygen incorporation at the three-phase boundary determines the electrochemical activity. In addition, for high cathodic polarization, an electrolyte surface path with electron transfer via YSZ outperforms both other pathways. The oxygen incorporation zones of the bulk path as well as the electrolyte surface path can be visualized by 18O tracer incorporation experiments in combination with time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) analysis. A successful separation of surface and bulk path can also be obtained for La0.8Sr0.2MnO3−δ (LSM) electrodes by means of 18O tracer incorporation at different cathodic overpotentials. Under lower polarization, a surface path with oxygen incorporation at the three-phase boundary is dominant, whereas at higher cathodic overpotential, the bulk path becomes significantly more pronounced. These changes are discussed in terms of polarization-induced changes of the ionic conductivity in the LSM electrode. Measurements on the acceptor-doped perovskite-type materials La0.6Sr0.4CoO3−δ (LSC) and La0.6Sr0.4FeO3−δ (LSF) illustrate the limitations of the tracer incorporation method. In the case of highly active LSC electrodes with low polarization resistances, the tracer distribution is determined by the electrolyte, and thus the active sites of the electrodes can no longer be visualized. The effect of polarization-induced changes of the electrode's electronic conductivity is demonstrated for LSF. Only a region close to the current collector remains electrochemically active owing to limited lateral electron transport.


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Thin film cathodes in SOFC research: How to identify oxygen reduction pathways?

  • Alexander K. Opitz (a1), Markus Kubicek (a1), Stefanie Huber (a1), Tobias Huber (a1), Gerald Holzlechner (a1), Herbert Hutter (a1) and Jürgen Fleig (a1)...


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