Atomic-scale semiconductor process technology and pure hydrogen technology come together

Atomic-scale semiconductor process technology and pure hydrogen technology come together.

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are widely used for energy storage, transportation and various applications, using solid electrolytes such as ceramics. The efficiency of these cells relies on the performance and durability of their electrodes.

To increase this efficiency, there is a requirement to fabricate electrodes with a porous structure. Unfortunately, existing technologies face challenges in achieving a uniform layer of ceramic materials within electrodes that possess complex porous structures.

A collaborative research team, consisting of Professor Jihwan An and Ph.D. candidate Sung Eun Jo from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and others, has successfully produced porous electrodes for SOFCs using the latest semiconductor processes. This research is presented as a back cover article Small methods.

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The atomic layer deposition (ALD) process involves depositing gaseous materials on a substrate surface in uniform atomically thin layers. In a recent study, Professor Jihwan An’s team, known for their previous work on increasing the efficiency of SOFCs using ALD, developed and applied a powder ALD process and equipment. This enabled them to precisely coat nano-thin films on fine powders.

The team used this process to uniformly coat a zirconium oxide (ZrO2) ceramic material in a porous structured cathode (LSCF). Unlike traditional ALD processes for semiconductors that mainly absorb gaseous reactants on the surface of porous structures and face limitations in penetrating complex pores, the team used an atomic layer process on powder electrode materials and successfully deposited these materials within the structure.

In experimental trials, the team’s electrodes demonstrated a remarkable 2.2-fold increase in maximum cell power density compared to conventional ones, even in high-temperature environments (700-750°C). Additionally, they achieved a 60% reduction in activation resistance, a factor that typically reduces cell efficiency.

In response to this issue, the research team has developed an innovative prosthetic hand tailored for a patient who lost his thumb and index finger in a car accident. This advanced prosthesis works by interpreting signals from the brain to the muscles through sensors. Unlike conventional prostheses, it includes a wrist rotation module, enabling patients to enjoy unrestricted wrist movement.

Professor Jihwan One who led the research said:

This means a breakthrough in green energy systems through the application of advanced technology based on semiconductor processes.

“Powder ALD technology has tremendous potential in various applications including SOFCs, hydrogen production and secondary battery devices such as SOECs.”

“We will continue our research efforts to improve sustainable solutions for green energy.”

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Atomic-scale semiconductor process technology and pure hydrogen technology come together. SOURCE

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