Minimizing the overpotential at the air electrode of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) is one of the key challenges regarding a broad applicability of this technology. Next to novel materials and geometry optimization, surface modification is a promising and flexible method to alter the oxygen exchange kinetics at SOFC cathode surfaces. Despite extensive research, the mechanism behind the effect of surface decorations is still under debate. Moreover, for Sr decoration, previous studies yielded conflicting results, reporting either a beneficial or a detrimental impact on the oxygen exchange kinetics. In this contribution, in situ impedance spectroscopy during pulsed laser deposition was used to investigate the effect of Sr containing decorations under different deposition conditions. Depending on deposition temperature and interactions with the gas phase, opposing effects of Sr decoration were found. In combination with near-ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and non-ambient X-ray diffractometry, it was possible to trace this phenomenon back to different chemical environments of the surface Sr. At high temperatures, Sr is deposited as SrO, which can have a beneficial effect on the oxygen exchange kinetics. At low temperatures, SrCO3 adsorbates are formed from trace amounts of CO2 in the measurement atmosphere, causing a decrease of the oxygen exchange rate. These results are in excellent agreement with the concept of surface acidity as a descriptor for the effect of surface decorations, providing further insight into the oxygen exchange kinetics on SOFC cathode surfaces and its degradation. In addition, this study shows that Sr segregation itself initially does not lead to performance degradation but that segregated SrO readily reacts with acidic compounds, reducing the catalytic capability of mixed conducting oxides.
Bibliographische NotizFunding Information:
The authors thank the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) (project number P31654-N37) for financial support. We also thank Huber Scientific for providing measurement equipment. We gratefully acknowledge support from the K1-COMET center CEST (Centre for Electrochemical Surface Technology, Wiener Neustadt) funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG, award number 865864). Part of this research was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement no. 755 744/ERC—Starting Grant TUCAS.
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