Phosphorus-Doped Glass Proton Exchange Membranes for Low Temperature Direct Methanol Fuel Cells

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Phosphorus-doped silicon dioxide thin films were used as ion exchange membranes in low temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Phosphorus-doped silicon dioxide glass (PSG) was deposited via plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). The plasma deposition of PSG films allows for low temperature fabrication that is compatible with current microelectronic industrial processing. SiH4, PH3 and N2O were used as the reactant gases. The effect of plasma deposition parameters, substrate temperature, RF power, and chamber pressure, on the ionic conductivity of the PSG films is elucidated. PSG conductivities as high as 2.54 × 10−4 S cm−1 were realized, which is 250 times higher than the conductivity of pure SiO2 films (1 × 10−6 S cm−1) under identical deposition conditions. The higher conductivity films were deposited at low temperature, moderate pressure, limited reactant gas flow rate, and high RF power.