Proton exchange membrane fuel cells have been recently developed at an increasing pace as clean energy conversion devices for stationary and transport sector applications. High platinum cathode loadings contribute significantly to costs. This is why improved catalyst and support materials as well as catalyst layer design are critically needed. Recent advances in nanotechnologies and material sciences have led to the discoveries of several highly promising families of materials. These include platinum-based alloys with shape-selected nanostructures, platinum-group-metal-free catalysts such as metal-nitrogen-doped carbon materials and modification of the carbon support to control surface properties and ionomer/catalyst interactions. Furthermore, the development of advanced characterization techniques allows a deeper understanding of the catalyst evolution under different conditions. This review focuses on all these recent developments and it closes with a discussion of future research directions in the field.
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