A research group under the direction of Lutgard C. De Jonghe investigates materials issues related to fuel cells operating between 400 and 800oC. For the lower temperature range novel, inorganic, phosphate-based proton conductors are studied both by experimental and computational methods. For the higher temperature ranges, new materials combinations, design, and electrode nano-infiltration are studied to enhance the performance of the fuel cells sufficiently to allow for use of cheap metallic components in the fuel cell stacks. The group also studies how strength and fracture of ceramics, such as silicon carbide, can be affected by their grain boundary properties, and their micro- and nanostructure.
The solid oxide fuel cell efforts includes Dr. Steven Visco of the Materials Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as P.I., while the proton conductor is a joint effort with Dr. Philip Ross of LBNL, and Prof. Jeffrey Reimer of the U.C. Berkeley Chemical Engineering Department.The structural materials effort is in collaboration with Prof. Robert Ritchie of the U.C. Berkeley Materials Sciences Department.