Proton exchange membrane with plasmon-active surface for enhancement of fuel cell effectivity
The action of fuel cells with proton-exchanged membrane (PEM) requires the implementation of hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) on the opposite sides of PEM. Recently, based on several models of electrochemical reactions a significant decrease of the thermodynamic activation barrier of both reactions under plasmon assistance was reported. In this work, we propose a design of PEM fuel cell with a plasmon-active catalytic surface providing plasmonic triggering and enhancement of fuel cell efficiency. In particular, we deposited bimetallic (Au@Pt) nanostructures on the PEM surface and integrated it in fuel cell design. The plasmon excitation occurs on the Au nanostructures under light illumination at corresponding NIR wavelength, while the Pt shell is responsible for introduction of catalytic sites. Light illumination results in a significant enhancement of electric current produced by fuel cell. In particular, the electric current increased by several times. Control experiments indicated that the observed enhancement takes place only in the case when the light wavelength is in compliance with plasmon absorption band and contribution from thermal effects are negligible. The present approach of introduction of plasmon assistance in the design of advanced fuel cells, makes them suitable for increasing of fuel cell efficiency under sunlight.