Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INSPIRE (In Situ Probing of transition metal-oxide heteroInterfaces for high-peRformance solid-state Energy devices)
Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2021-05-31
INSPIRE aimed to bring together fundamental knowledge and materials engineering by combining advanced elemental characterization techniques with next-generation film microstructures. One of the key metrics of this project was to use materials based on our existing knowledge in electrochemistry and nanotechnology. In this way, our engineered microstructural designs will provide researchers with new directions to explore, while providing commercial organizations with valuable information to adapt these microstructures with familiar materials for low-temperature operation.
The overall objective of this project is to probe the remarkable activity in the thin film electrodes (single-phase or vertically aligned nanocomposite) with the latest instrumental capabilities. A deeper understanding of the underlying kinetic mechanism helps to rationally design other heterostructures and heterointerfaces with superior properties, targeting durable, high-performance, and low-temperature operations. The second objective is to monitor the electrochemical performance for LT-SOC applications systematically. The study on VAN heterostructures as well as their single-phase counterparts reveals the influence of strain and lattice interactions on the performance of these cathodes.
In the second part of the project, vertically aligned composite nanostructures (VAN) comprising two materials known to show exceptionally fast electrokinetics for low temperatures operations were selected. This was a combination of an electronically conducting Ag metal and an ionically conducting oxide Ce0.9Gd0.1O2 (GDC). The Ag-GDC VAN films were deposited epitaxially on oriented yttria-stabilized zirconia substrates by PLD. Preliminary results show successful growth of ~40 to 400 nm thick oriented Ag/GDC VAN films. Both phases grew homogeneously and epitaxially on the substrate. in situ Raman spectroscopy was used to probe the stability of the films under airflow from room temperature to 400 °C. Initial findings indicate resistance to oxidation of Ag up to 400 °C and microstructural integrity up to ~350 °C. Additionally, we were able to show that the addition of GDC stabilized Ag by surrounding it through vertically grown columns.
For the exploitation and dissemination of the project, various activities such as publishing research articles, scientific talks at conferences and meetings, and participation in public engagement events were carried out. In terms of publishing, 2 peer-reviewed articles and 2 proceedings papers were published. At least 2 more peer-reviewed articles linked to INSPIRE and an invited chapter contribution to an e-book on nanoengineering methods developed and utilized for SOC air electrodes will be produced. In terms of scientific engagements, oral and poster presentations were given in the following conferences: Solid State Ionics (SSI), PyeongChang Korea in June 2019, European SOFC and SOEC Forum (EFCF) (virtual talk) in October 2020 and Electrochemical Society (ECS Prime) (virtual talk) in October 2020. Additionally, invited talks were given in the UK Surface Analysis Forum (UKSAF) in London, UK in January 2020, and STFC Batteries Early Career Researcher Conference in Oxford, UK in March 2019. In terms of public engagements, the principal investigator participated in the European Researcher’s Night in London, UK in September 2019.