Sanghoon Ji, Han Gil Seo, Siwon Lee, Jongsu Seo, Yeageun Lee, Waqas Hassan Tanveer, Suk Won Cha and WooChul Jung
Nanostructured Ni thin films, with high porosity, are fabricated by DC sputtering on an anodic aluminum oxide template as an active anode for low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells with a target operating temperature of 500 °C. To maximize the electrode performance, we control their effective electrical conductivity and microstructure by varying the sputtering parameters (e.g., the deposition pressure and time) and investigate the gas permeability, sinterability, as well as the ohmic and polarization resistances by a range of analysis techniques, in this case SEM, TEM, mass spectrometry, the four-point probe method and AC impedance spectroscopy. We observe that the thicker the Ni film, the higher the effective electrical conductivity and the lower the sheet resistance, while the thinner the film, the better the gas permeability and electrochemical activity for H2 electro-oxidation. These tradeoffs are quantitatively computed for cell dimensions and area specific resistances, thus suggesting an optimal design for affordable and high-performance electrodes.