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RU-G: “Structural characterization of electrochemical interfaces” (tbd)

Several crucial challenges in electrocatalysis are due to a lack of understanding of interfaces in the nanometer range. Open questions are for instance the attachment of ion conducting polymers to active catalyst particles in catalyst layers, the interaction between the active material and the support particularly for oxides as in water electrolysis, or the formation of core-shell structures. The focus of the research unit will be placed on the characterization and understanding of interfaces in electrocatalysis on an atomistic level. Moreover, again the evolution of the interfaces over time of operation and different conditions will provide important and novel insights. For this purpose also new approaches that enable in-situ electron microscopy studies of electrode structures will be utilized. The research unit will work in close collaboration with the electrocatalysis and electrocatalytic interface engineering research units, as well as the electron microscopy centers at FAU (CENEM) and FZ Jülich (ER-C) and the material science institutes at the FAU. The understanding of interfaces at the atomistic level will lead to an optimization of catalyst-support-polymer interactions on the nanoscale with far-reaching effects for catalyst performance, particularly with respect to stability. The expertise in transmission electron microscopy, ideally with experience in tomography and/or in-situ approaches and in relevant materials for electrochemical energy conversion, will complement the research portfolio of HI ERN.

Scheme: Impregnation of a support material with ion conducting Nafion polymer. Adopted from Lopez-Haro et al, Nat. Comm. 2014.Scheme: Impregnation of a support material with ion conducting Nafion polymer. Adopted from Lopez-Haro et al, Nat. Comm. 2014, 5, Art. No. 5229 with permission from Nature publishing group.

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