• Effective Deposition of Thin Insulating Layers for Sensors in Hydrogen Technology

    Schematic of a hydrogen filling station as an application scenario for pressure sensors with insulation layers. © metamorworks / Shutterstock

    Scientists at the Fraunhofer FEP have investigated new approaches for depositing low-defect insulating layers, part of the joint project “NaFuSS“ (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research/BMBF promotional reference number 13N13171). The aim is to increase the reliability and durability of pressure sensors for hydrogen technology, an area that is becoming increasingly important.

  • Evaluating Risk of Hydrogen Embrittlement: New Simulation of Cold Cracks in High-strength Steels

    Light microscopy image of a welded connection’s weld structure. © Fraunhofer IWM

    High-strength steels play a vital role in the construction of modern vehicles and machines. If these steels are welded during the production of components, mobile hydrogen atoms can cause problems within the material: the atoms accumulate slowly at highly stressed areas of a component, resulting in the steel becoming brittle at these locations. This can result in so-called cold break formations which can lead to component failure. Dr. Frank Schweizer of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM has developed a simulation method with which component manufacturers can assess cold break tendencies and adjust their production accordingly.

  • Fuel Cells for Hydrogen Vehicles are Becoming Longer Lasting

    The new electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells consists of a thin platinum-cobalt alloy network and, unlike the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier. Gustav Sievers

    An international research team led by the University of Bern has succeeded in developing an electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells which, in contrast to the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier and is therefore much more stable. The new process is industrially applicable and can be used to further optimize fuel cell powered vehicles without CO2 emissions.

  • How protons move through a fuel cell

    The experiments have been conducted with Barium ceric oxide. The crystal is non conductive in a dry state. When moisture comes in, the protons form OH-bondings and move through the crystal. Empa

    Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

    As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton conductivity is crucial for the latter; protons, i.e. positively charged hydrogen ions, are formed from hydrogen, which is used to power the fuel cell.

  • New Approach to Revolutionize the Production of Molecular Hydrogen

    Figure. a) Synthetic scheme of MoNi4 electrocatalyst supported by the MoO2 cuboids on nickel foam; b) polarization curves of the MoNi4 electrocatalyst supported by the MoO2 cuboids, pure Ni nanosheets and MoO2 cuboids on the nickel foam; c) calculated adsorption free energy diagram for the Tafel step. Prof. Xinliang Feng/cfaed

    A paper from cfaed’s Chair for Molecular Functional Materials co-authored by researchers at universities and institutes in Germany, France and Japan has been published in Nature Communications on 17th May 2017. The paper titled “Efficient hydrogen production on MoNi4 electrocatalysts with fast water dissociation kinetics” describes a new approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen. This gas is considered to be one of the most promising energy carriers of the future.

    Growing concern about the energy crisis and the seriousness of environmental contamination urgently demand the development of renewable energy sources as feasible alternatives to diminishing fossil fuels.

  • New Hybrid Semiconductor Material for Sustainable Hydrogen Production

    Electron microscopic image of the hybrid material. Image: Pawan Kumar / University of Alberta

    Chemists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed an efficient water splitting catalyst as part of a collaborative international research effort. The catalyst comprises a double-helix semiconductor structure encased in carbon nitride. It is perfect for producing hydrogen economically and sustainably. An international team led by TUM chemist Tom Nilges and engineer Karthik Shankar from the University of Alberta have now found a stable yet flexible semiconductor structure that splits water much more efficiently than was previously possible. 

  • O2 Stable Hydrogenases for Applications

    Dr. James Birrell & Dr. Patricia Rodríguez Maciá. MPI CEC

    A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and the MPI für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr have succeeded in optimizing naturally occurring catalysts (hydrogenases) for application. Hydrogen gas (H2) has been proposed as an ideal energy vector. It can be produced from water, ideally using renewable energy sources and using an efficient catalyst to split water into H2 and oxygen (O2).

  • Rotation of a Molecule as an "Internal Clock"

    Fig. 1: (a) Rotational excitation of H2 in the pump pulse: starting the "internal clock". (b) The two possible mechanisms of molecular cleavage (ATD and EI) in the probe pulse and detection of the fragments. MPIK

    Using a new method, physicists at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics have investigated the ultrafast fragmentation of hydrogen molecules in intense laser fields in detail. They used the rotation of the molecule triggered by a laser pulse as an "internal clock" to measure the timing of the reaction that takes place in a second laser pulse in two steps. Such a “rotational clock” is a general concept applicable to sequential fragmentation processes in other molecules. [Physical Review Letters, Oct 23rd 2020]

  • Shrinking the Proton Again!

    This photo shows the vacuum chamber used to measure the 2S-4P transition frequency in atomic hydrogen. The purple glow in the back stems from the microwave discharge that dissociates hydrogen molecules into hydrogen atoms. The blue light in the front is fluorescence from the ultraviolet laser that excites the atoms to the 2S state. The turquoise blue glow is stray light from the laser system used to measure the frequency of the 2S-4P transition. (Photo: MPQ)

    Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen. It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly smaller, by four standard deviations, than previous determinations using regular hydrogen. This discrepancy and its origin have attracted much attention in the scientific community, with even extensions of the so-called standard model of physics being discussed.

  • Water Splitting Observed on the Nanometer Scale

    At rough areas of a catalyst surface, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen in a more energy efficient way than at smooth areas. MPI-P, License CC-BY-SA

    Whether as a fuel or in energy storage: hydrogen is being traded as the energy carrier of the future. To date, existing methodologies have not been able to elucidate how exactly the electrochemical process of water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen takes place at the molecular scale on a catalyst surface. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz have now developed a new method to investigate such processes "live" on the nanometer scale. The new detailed insights into the splitting of water on gold surfaces could aid the design of energy-efficient electro-catalysts.

  • Zeptoseconds: New World Record in Short Time Measurement

    Schematic representation of zeptosecond measurement. The photon (yellow, coming from the left) produces electron waves out of the electron cloud (grey) of the hydrogen molecule (red: nucleus), which interfere with each other (interference pattern: violet-white). The interference pattern is slightly skewed to the right, allowing the calculation of how long the photon required to get from one atom to the next. Photo: Sven Grundmann, Goethe University Frankfurt

    In the global race to measure ever shorter time spans, physicists from Goethe University Frankfurt have now taken the lead: together with colleagues at the accelerator facility DESY in Hamburg and the Fritz-Haber-Institute in Berlin, they have measured a process that lies within the realm of zeptoseconds for the first time: the propagation of light within a molecule. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second (10 exp -21 seconds).