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We report the spontaneous formation of nanoparticles on smooth nanofibres in a single-step electrospinning process, as an inexpensive and scalable method for producing high-surface-area composites. Layers of nanofibres, containing the proton conducting electrolyte, caesium dihydrogen phosphate, are deposited uniformly over large area substrates from clear solutions of the electrolyte mixed with polymers. Under certain conditions, the normally smooth nanofibres develop caesium dihydrogen phosphate nanoparticles in large numbers on their external surface. The nanoparticles appear to originate from the electrolyte within the fibres, which is transported to the outer surface after the fibres are deposited, as evidenced by cross-sectional imaging of the electrospun fibres. The presence of nanoparticles on the fibre surface yields composites with increased surface area of exposed electrolyte, which ultimately enhances electrocatalytic performance. Indeed, solid acid fuel cells fabricated with electrodes from processed nanofibre-nanoparticle composites, produced higher cell voltage as compared to fuel cells fabricated with state-of-the-art electrodes.
- fuel cells