Interfacial Engineering via Laser Ablation for High-Performing PEM Water Electrolysis

Jason Lee, Tobias Schuler, Guido Bender, Mayank Sabharwal, Xiong Peng, Adam Weber, Nemanja Danilovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus Citations


A rationalized interfacial design strategy was applied to tailor the porous transport layer (PTL)-catalyst layer (CL) contact and the PTL bulk-phase architecture. Particularly, at the PTL-CL interface, our results reveal that laser ablated sintered titanium power-based PTLs improve electrolyzer performance at both the H2NEW Consortium baseline catalyst loading of 0.4 mgIr·cm−2 as well as at the ultra-low catalyst loading of 0.055 mgIr·cm−2. Under ultra-low catalyst loadings, the laser ablated PTL demonstrates maximum reduction of 230 mV compared to the commercial PTL at 4 A·cm−2, and reduces by 68 mV at 3.2 A·cm−2 under H2NEW baseline loading. Laser ablation alters the titanium phase at the interface, so it forms more uniform structure like a microporous layer or a backing layer, leading to an increase in the surface area in contact with the catalyst layer while preventing the membrane from deforming into the PTL. Moreover, we reveal that bulk-phase architecture modification of the PTL by ablating patterned pores at the flow field-PTL interface improves mass transport without sacrificing contact at the CL-PTL interface. Overall, laser ablation of the PTL is an effective method to customize interfacial design to enhance proton exchange membrane electrolyzer performance.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number120853
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-85737


  • Interface
  • Laser ablation
  • Porous transport layer
  • Proton exchange membrane
  • Water electrolysis


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