O Flow Dims Glow

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Science  21 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5870, pp. 1591
DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5870.1591b

In a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell, hydrogen is oxidized at the anode to form protons that migrate through a membrane and then react with the oxygen being reduced at the cathode. Efficient operation relies in part on optimizing interactions of the respective isolated electrodes with flowing hydrogen and oxygen gas. Toward this end, Inukai et al. have devised a technique for visualizing oxygen flow as PEM fuel cells operate. They disperse a phosphorescent chromophore in a polymer matrix and apply the resulting oxygen-permeable film to specially constructed transparent fuel-cell elements. Because oxygen quenches the phosphorescence, the authors can track oxygen flow by monitoring emission intensity after excitation of the dye-impregnated film with 407-nm light. The scheme offers 300-×m spatial resolution and 500-ms temporal resolution. — JSY

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 47, 10.1002/anie.200705516 (2008).

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