Synthesis and Characterization of Nanostructured Electrodes for Solid State Ionic Devices
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The demands for advanced power sources with high energy efficiency, minimum environmental impact, and low cost have been the impetus for the development of a new generation of batteries and fuel cells. One of the key challenges in this effort is to develop and fabricate effective electrodes with desirable composition, microstructure and performance. This work focused on the design, fabrication, and characterization of nanostructured electrodes in an effort to minimize electrode polarization losses. Solid-state diffusion often limits the utilization and rate capability of electrode materials in a lithium-ion battery, especially at high charge/discharge rates. When the fluxes of Li+ insertion or extraction exceed the diffusion-limited rate of Li+ transport within the bulk phase of an electrode, concentration polarization occurs. Further, large volume changes associated with Li+ insertion or extraction could induce stresses in bulk electrodes, potentially leading to mechanical failure. Interconnected porous materials with high surface-to-volume ratio were designed to suppress the stress and promote mass transport. In this work, electrodes with these unique architectures for lithium ion batteries have been fabricated to improve the cycleability, rate capability and capacity retention. Cathodic interfacial polarization represents the predominant voltage loss in a low-temperature SOFC. For the first time, regular, homogeneous and bimodal porous MIEC electrodes were successfully fabricated using breath figure templating, which is self-assembly of the water droplets in polymer solution. The homogeneous macropores promoted rapid mass transport by decreasing the tortuosity. And mesoporous microstructure provided more surface areas for gas adsorption and more TPBs for the electrochemical reactions. Moreover, composite electrodes were developed with a modified sol-gel process for honeycomb SOFCs. The sol gel derived cathodes with fine grain size and large specific surface area, showed much lower interfacial polarization resistances than those prepared by other existing processing methods. Nanopetals of cerium hydroxycarbonate have been synthesized via a controlled hydrothermal process in a mixed water-ethanol medium. The formation of the cerium compound depends strongly on the composition of the precursors, and is attributed to the favored ethanol oxidation by Ce(IV) ions over Ce(IV) hydrolysis process. Raman studies showed that microflower CeO2 preferentially stabilizes O2 as a peroxide species on its surface for CO oxidation.