Direct modeling of the electrochemistry in the three-phase boundary of solid oxide fuel cell anodes by density functional theory: a critical overview
The first principles modeling of electrochemical reactions has proven useful for the development of efficient, durable and low cost solid oxide full cells (SOFCs). In this account we focus on recent advances in modeling of structural, electronic and catalytic properties of the SOFC anodes based on density functional theory (DFT) first principle calculations. As a starting point, we highlight that the adequate analysis of cell electrochemistry generally requires modeling of chemical reactions at the metal/oxide interface rather than on individual metal or oxide surfaces. The atomic models of Ni/YSZ and Ni/CeO2 interfaces, required for DFT simulations of reactions on SOFC anodes are discussed next, together with the analysis of the electronic structure of these interfaces. Then we proceed to DFT-based findings on charge transfer mechanisms during redox reactions on these two anodes. We provide a comparison of the electronic properties of Ni/YSZ and Ni/CeO2 interfaces and present an interpretation of their different chemical performances. Subsequently we discuss the computed energy pathways of fuel oxidation mechanisms, obtained by various groups to date. We also discuss the results of DFT studies combined with microkinetic modeling as well as the results of kinetic Monte Carlo simulations. In conclusion we summarize the key findings of DFT modeling of metal/oxide interfaces to date and highlight possible directions in the future modeling of SOFC anodes.