Microfabricated Fuel Cells To Power Integrated Circuits
Moore, Christopher Wayne
MetadataShow full item record
Microfabricated fuel cells have been designed and constructed on silicon integrated circuit wafers using many processes common in integrated circuit fabrication, including sputtering, polymer spin coating, reactive ion etching, and photolithography. Fuel delivery microchannels were made through the use of sacrificial polymers. The characteristics of different sacrificial polymers were studied to find the most suitable for this work. A polypropylene carbonate solution containing a photo-acid generator could be directly patterned with ultraviolet exposure and thermal decomposition. The material that would serve as the fuel cells proton exchange membrane (PEM) encapsulated the microchannels. Silicon dioxide deposited by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) at relatively low temperatures exhibited material properties that made it suitable as a thin-film PEM in these devices. By adding phosphorous to the silicon dioxide recipe during deposition, a phosphosilicate glass was formed that had an increased ionic conductivity. Various polymers were tested for use as the PEM or in combination with oxide to form a composite PEM. While it did not work well alone, using Nafion on top of the glass layer to form a dual-layer PEM greatly enhanced the fuel cell performance, including yield and long-term reliability. Platinum and platinum/ruthenium catalyst layers were sputter deposited. Experiments were performed to find a range of thicknesses that resulted in porous layers allowing contact between reactants, catalyst, and the PEM. When using the deposited glasses, multiple layers of catalyst could be deposited between thin layers of the electrolyte, resulting in higher catalyst loading while maintaining porosity. The current and power output were greatly improved with these additional catalyst layers.