More flexible nanomaterials can make fuel cell cars cheaper

phys.org | 2/21/2019 | Staff
xxlauzyxx (Posted by) Level 3
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A new method of increasing the reactivity of ultrathin nanosheets, just a few atoms thick, can someday make fuel cells for hydrogen cars cheaper, finds a new Johns Hopkins study.

A report of the findings, to be published Feb. 22 in Science, offers promise towards faster, cheaper production of electrical power using fuel cells, but also of bulk chemicals and materials such as hydrogen.

Material - Surface - Strain - Breakdown - Material

"Every material experiences surface strain due to the breakdown of the material's crystal symmetry at the atomic level. We discovered a way to make these crystals ultrathin, thereby decreasing the distance between atoms and increasing the material's reactivity," says Chao Wang, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at The Johns Hopkins University, and one of the study's corresponding authors.

Strain is, in short, the deformation of any material. For example, when a piece of paper is bent, it is effectively disrupted at the smallest, atomic level; the intricate lattices that hold the paper together are forever changed.

Study - Wang - Colleagues - Strain - Effect

In this study, Wang and colleagues manipulated the strain effect, or distance between atoms, causing the material to change dramatically. By making those lattices incredibly thin, roughly a million times thinner than a strand of human hair, the material becomes much easier to manipulate just like how one piece of paper is easier to bend than a thicker stack of paper.

"We're essentially using force to tune the properties of thin metal sheets that make up electrocatalysts, which are...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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