Fuel cell electrode degradation followed by identical location transmission electron microscopy

Victor Shokhen, Linnéa Strandberg, Magnus Skoglundh, Björn Wickman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Identical location transmission electron microscopy (IL-TEM) is a powerful technique that has previously been used to study degradation of catalyst materials for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) in half-cell environments. Here, we demonstrate that IL-TEM can be used to follow degradation at the top of the catalytic Pt/C layer in a real PEMFC on the atomic scale under operation. We find that during an accelerated stress test (AST), mimicking normal operation, Pt nanoparticles grow mainly by Ostwald ripening, while the carbon support is stable. Under AST mimicking start-up/shutdown conditions, the carbon support degrades mainly by loss of volume and collapse, which forces the Pt nanoparticles closer, promoting additional particle growth. The observed degradation correlates with the measured decrease in electrochemical performance for the respective AST. The results show the feasibility of performing IL-TEM imaging in PEMFCs under real-operating conditions, opening up the possibility for similar studies in other fully operational systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21029-21035
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number39
StatePublished - 4 Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

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© 2023 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


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