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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Microscopic techniques for analysis of ceramic fuel cells

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Ceramic fuel cells, such as solid oxide fuel cells, convert the chemical energy of a fuel directly to electricity. To make these to a commercial success, several challenges need to be solved such as lowering the operating temperature and improving long‐term stability. Since ceramic fuel cells are complex nanolevel structures, it is crucial to understand how the actual nanostructure of the cell is linked to its macroscopic performance. This paper reviews how different microscopic techniques have been used to obtain information of the fuel cell structure in both two‐dimensional and three‐dimensional and how this information have been used to solve problems related to the cell performance. Finally, the paper proposes how recent development in the field of microscopy could be applied to fuel cell studies. This article is categorized under: Fuel Cells and Hydrogen > Science and Materials
Components and working principles of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Layers from up to down: Cathode, electrolyte, anode. O2 is supplied from the cathode, where it reacts with electrons from external circuit. Electrolyte transports O2−‐ions to anode, where reaction with H2 creates water and releases electrons to external circuit
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Suggested experimental setup for transmission electron microscopy (TEM)/Raman measurements
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Experimental setup for imaging solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) cathode at operation temperature (695 °C) and gaseous atmosphere by using X‐ray nanotomography.(Reprinted with permission from Shearing et al. (). Copyright ECS (2011))
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Three‐dimensional (3D) reconstruction of triple phase boundary (TPB)‐zones of Ni–YSZ anode by FIB‐scanning electron microscopy (SEM): Annealed sample (right) shows decreased active TPB density when compared to fresh sample (left). Green means active, red inactive and yellow unknown TPB. (Reprinted with permission from Yakal‐Kremski et al. (). Copyright Wiley (2013))
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Principle of FIB–scanning electron microscopy (SEM) technique. SEM images the surface of the sample and FIB cuts away the imaged surface, resulting as a series of two‐dimensional (2D) images. Three‐dimensional (3D) reconstruction is computerized from these images. (Reprinted with permission from Wilson et al. (). Copyright Nature (2006))
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Microstructure of yttria‐stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrolyte. Very high resolution allows examining YSZ in sub‐nanometer scale and identifying grain orientations (c). (Reprinted with permission from Marrero‐Lopez et al. (). Copyright Elsevier (2008))
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Example of electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) analysis, showing that Sn‐dopant is enriched at the edges of Ni‐particles. (Reprinted with permission from Nikolla, Schwank, and Linic (). Copyright Elsevier (2008))
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Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)–Backscattered electron (BSE) image of Ni–YSZ anode: YSZ appears bright, Ni dark, and pores black. (Reprinted with permission from Klemenso, Appel, and Mogensen (). Copyright ECS (2006))
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Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)–secondary electron (SE) figure of GDC/(Li,K)2CO3 electrolyte before (a and b) and after (c and d) sintering. Figure shows clearly GDC grains and uniform molten carbonate distribution. (Reprinted with permission from Benamira et al. (). Copyright Elsevier (2011))
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Interactions between electron beam and the sample. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses secondary and backscattered electrons, whereas transmission electron microscopy (TEM) focuses on transmitted electrons
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