Operando Topography and Mechanical Property Mapping of CO2Reduction Gas-Diffusion Electrodes Operating at High Current Densities

Nathan T. Nesbitt, Wilson A. Smith

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Electrochemical atomic force microscopy (EC-AFM) enables measurement of electrode topography and mechanical properties during electrochemical reactions. However, for aqueous-based reactions that make gas products, such as CO2 reduction and water splitting into CO/H2, current densities below 1 mA cm-2 have been necessary to prevent formation of bubbles at the electrode; such bubbles can stick to the AFM probe and prevent further AFM imaging. Here, we demonstrate a novel cell design with a gas-diffusion electrode (GDE) to exhaust the gas products, thereby enabling high current density EC-AFM measurements at 1, 10, and 100 mA cm-2 that are not disturbed by bubble formation at the electrode surface. These experiments revealed a stable morphological structure of Cu catalysts deposited on GDEs during high current density operation. Systematic spatially resolved maps of deformation and adhesion showed no signs of a gas-liquid interface between catalyst particles of the GDE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number044505
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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