RU-D: "Electrocatalytic Interface Engineering" (tbd)
The electrocatalytic interface engineering research unit should tackle the challenge of understanding the correlation between the performance of catalyst layers and their structure on a mesoscopic level. This requires expertise in structural imaging and characterization of the porous interface between the catalyst, the electron conducting support, and the ion conducting polymer in the bulk of the catalyst layer as well as at the interface to the polymer membrane. This will be essential for the understanding of parameters such as diffusivity, conductivity and catalyst utilization in the complex porous matrix, and will aid the interpretation of fundamental and applied electrocatalytic performance data for instance obtained in the Electrocatalysis research unit or at IEK-3 of the FZJ. Moreover, the understanding of structural degradation of the components of the catalyst layer should play a central role for the research unit. The gained knowledge will be utilized for a) the improvement of the polymer functionality, including but not limited to dispersion, functionalization, or addition of fillers for chemical, thermal and mechanical stability, within the catalyst layer and at the membrane interface, b) the design and production of optimized catalyst-polymer-membrane layers and interfaces with respect to activity and stability performance (in combination with the research units on modelling, nanoparticle processing, and IEK-3), and c) the development of theoretical models that can be utilized for the description of membrane-electrode-assemblies.