Robust thin film solid oxide fuel cell

Among the major fuel cell chemistries, Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) are considered most desirable due to their high energy conversion efficiency, fuel flexibility, and contaminant tolerance. Conventional solid oxide fuel cells operate at 800°C - 1000°C, requiring expensive non-corrosive materials. The technology developed in the Ramanathan Lab allow SOFCs to operate at low temperatures of 450°C - 550°C (and potentially lower), providing efficiency gains while allowing use of lower cost materials and simpler packaging. The technology captured here allows for easy fabrication of electrodes using industry standard silicon wafers and commonplace micro-fabrication techniques. The thin nature of the electrodes also allows for potential gains in volumetric power density at both small and large scale.

Progress to-date:
• Demonstrated highest power density to date among thin film micro solid oxide fuel cells with oxide cathodes (in the 150mW/cm2 range), targeting 300-500 mW/cm2 at 400-500°C range and below
• Demonstrated largest mechanically stable fuel cell area among thin film micro-SOFCs
• Demonstrated highest total power output from single thin film fuel cell area
• Demonstrated robust fabrication process (>90% yield)


A surge in energy consumption of portable electronic devices has increased interest in fuel cells as alternitave mobile power sources. Fuel cells provide higher total energy for a given size or weight than batteries and unlike batteries can be replenished instantaneously. This portable fuel cell market is estimated to hit $1 billion dollars globally in the next 5-7 years.

U.S. Patent(s) Issued: US9620803B2