Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Chemical Engineering


Sputter deposition has been investigated as a tool for manufacturing proton-exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) electrodes with improved performance and catalyst utilization vs. ink-based electrodes. Sputter-depositing a single layer of Pt on the gas diffusion layer provided better performance (0.28 A/cm2 at 0.6 V) than sputtering the Pt directly onto a Nafion membrane (0.065 A/cm2 at 0.6 V) and equaled the performance of the baseline for an equivalent Pt loading. Sputter-depositing alternating layers of Pt and Nafion-carbon ink (NCI) onto the membrane did not increase the performance over the baseline as measured in amperes per centimeter squared due to the excessive thickness of the NCI (the NCI accounted for 99.9% of the electrode thickness). However, three and six layer Pt/NCI membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) resulted in Pt activities double that of the 905 A/g at 0.6 V achieved by the ink-based baseline. Decreasing the thickness of each NCI layer increased the performance of the six-layered Pt/NCI MEA from 0.132 to 0.170 A/cm2 at 0.6 V, providing an activity of 2650 A/g at 0.6 V. It is likely that by further decreasing the ratio of NCI to Pt in these electrodes, Pt activity, and PEMFC electrode performance can be increased