The use of vapor deposition techniques enables synthesis of the basic components of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC); namely, the electrolyte layer, the two electrodes, and the electrolyte-electrode interfaces. Such vapor deposition techniques provide solutions to each of the three critical steps of material synthesis to produce a thin film solid oxide fuel cell (TFSOFC). The electrolyte is formed by reactive deposition of essentially any ion conducting oxide, such as defect free, yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) by planar magnetron sputtering. The electrodes are formed from ceramic powders sputter coated with an appropriate metal and sintered to a porous compact. The electrolyte-electrode interface is formed by chemical vapor deposition of zirconia compounds onto the porous electrodes to provide a dense, smooth surface on which to continue the growth of the defect-free electrolyte, whereby a single fuel cell or multiple cells may be fabricated.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.