Towards Next Generation Membranes for Polymer Electrolyte Water Electrolysis
The conversion efficiency for green hydrogen production in a polymer electrolyte water electrolyzer (PEWE) is strongly influenced by the ohmic cell resistance and therefore the thickness of the membrane. The use of thin membranes (~50 micron or below) is limited by gas crossover of H2 and O2, which can lead to the formation of an explosive gas mixture. The incorporation of a Pt recombination catalyst provides remedy and allows a more dynamic operating mode (cf. Highlight 03/2022). However, the presence of Pt nanoparticles leads to an increase in the rate of membrane degradation. Therefore, we have additionally doped the membrane with cerium-zirconium-oxide (CZO) nanoparticles, which act as radical scavenger. The rate of membrane degradation can thus be reduced.
Approximate Computing for Nuclear Reactor Simulations
During the last decades, computing power has been subject to tremendous progress due to the shrinking of transistor size as predicted by Moore’s law. However, as we approach the physical limits of this scaling, alternative techniques have to be deployed to increase computing performance. In this regard, the next big advance is envisioned to be the usage of approximate computing hardware based on field-programmable gate arrays and/or digital-analogue in-memory circuits. Such approximate computing can provide disproportional gain (x1000) in energy efficiency and/or execution time for acceptable loss of simulation accuracy. This could be highly beneficial in order to accelerate computational intensive simulations such as reactor core analyses with higher resolution multi-physics models. On the other hand, the execution of programming codes on low-precision hardware may result in inadequate outcomes due to quality degradation and/or algorithm divergence. To address these questions, studies on the stability and the performance of advanced reactor simulation algorithms as function of reduced floating-point arithmetic precision are being conducted at the laboratory for reactor physics and thermal-hydraulics. Results obtained so far indicate a large room for the acceleration of nuclear engineering applications using mixed-precision hardware. Therefore, research is now being enlarged towards assessing multiprecision computing methods for reactor core simulations with higher spatial resolution.
Muonic X-rays peer into brooch from Roman city
Using Muon Induced X-ray Emission, researchers could reveal the inner composition of a knob-bow fibula, excavated at Augusta Raurica in northern Switzerland.
A practical guide to pulsed laser deposition
Nanoscale thin films are widely implemented across a plethora of technological and scientific areas, and form the basis for many advancements that have driven human progress, owing to the high degree of functional tunability based on the chemical composition. Pulsed laser deposition is one of the multiple physical vapour deposition routes to fabricate thin films, employing laser energy to eject material from a target in the form of a plasma. A substrate, commonly a single-crystal oxide, is placed in the path of the plume and acts as a template for the arriving species from the target to coalesce and self-assemble into a thin film. This technique is tremendously useful to produce crystalline films, due to the wide range of atmospheric conditions and the extent of possible chemical complexity of the target. However, this flexibility results in a high degree of complexity, oftentimes requiring rigorous optimisation of the growth parameters to achieve high quality crystalline films with desired composition. In this tutorial review, we aim to reduce the complexity and the barrier to entry for the controlled growth of complex oxides by pulsed laser deposition. We present an overview of the fundamental and practical aspects of pulsed laser deposition, discuss the consequences of tailoring the growth parameters on the thin film properties, and describe in situ monitoring techniques that are useful in gaining a deeper understanding of the properties of the resultant films. Particular emphasis is placed on the general relationships between the growth parameters and the consequent structural, chemical and functional properties of the thin films. In the final section, we discuss the open questions within the field and possible directions to further expand the utility of pulsed laser deposition.
Activity Trend Origin of Ethanol Oxidative Dehydrogenation over VOx/CeO2
Using operando time-resolved X-ray absorption spectroscopy, we investigated the origin of volcano-shaped ethanol oxidative dehydrogenation activity trend of VOx/CeO2 catalysts as a function of VOx surface coverage. Vanadium and cerium synergistically change their oxidation states during the catalytic cycle. The catalytic activity correlates with the concentration of reversible Ce4+/3+species.
Integration of Li4Ti5O12 crystalline films on silicon towards high-rate performance lithionic devices
The growth of crystalline Li-based oxide thin films on silicon substrates is essential for the integration of next-generation solid-state lithionic and electronic devices. In this work, we employ a 2 nm γ-Al2O3 buffer layer on Si substrates in order to grow high quality crystalline thin films Li4Ti5O12 (LTO). Long-term galvanostatic cycling of 50 nm LTO demonstrates exceptional electrochemical performance, specific capacity of 175 mAh g-1 and 56 mAh g-1 at 100C and 5000C respectively, with a capacity retention of 91% after 5000 cycles.
Momentum-resolved electronic structure of LaTiO2N photocatalysts by resonant Soft-X-ray ARPES
Oxynitrides are promising materials for visible light-driven water splitting. However, limited information regarding their electron-momentum resolved electronic structure exists. Here, with the advantage of the enhanced probing depth and chemical state specificity of soft-X-ray ARPES, we determine the electronic structure of the photocatalyst oxynitride LaTiO2N and monitor its evolution as a consequence of the oxygen evolution reaction. After the photoelectrochemical reactions, we observe a partial loss of Ti- and La-N 2p states, distortions surrounding the local environment of titanium atoms and, unexpectedly, an indication of an electron accumulation layer at or near the surface, which may be connected with either a large density of metallic surface states or downward band bending. The distortions and defects associated with the titanium 3d states lead to the trapping of electrons and charge recombination, which is a major limitation for the oxynitride LaTiO2N. The presence of an accumulation layer and its evolution suggests complex mechanisms of the photoelectrochemical reaction, especially in cases where co-catalysts or passivation layers are used.
Advancing the JUNGFRAU detector toward low-energy X-ray applications
“Soft” x-rays are notoriously hard to detect. Particularly, in the context of high-performance synchrotron and free electron laser (FEL) experiments, suitable detector options for low-energy x-rays are highly sought after. Currently available options only provide limited area, readout speed, and dynamic range. Now, a team of scientists from the Laboratory for X-Ray Nanoscience and Technologies (LXN) at PSI are challenging these limitations. They combined a detector made at PSI with newly developed silicon sensors to push the resolution toward the soft x-ray limit. A first version of this detector system is now in operation at the SwissFEL endstation Maloja. And it points to further possibilities to refine the detector technology to eventually catch the elusive soft x-rays.
How to squash things carefully
A new in situ uniaxial pressure cell at Paul Scherrer Institute PSI gives scientists unrivalled control to tweak quantum materials microscopically and tune their properties.