Thermal imaging and vibrational spectroscopy have become important tools for examining the physical and chemical changes that occur in real time in solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). Imaging techniques can resolve temperature differences as fine as 0.1°C across a SOFC electrode at temperatures higher than 600°C. Vibrational spectroscopy can identify molecular species and changes in material phases in operating SOFCs. This review discusses the benefits and challenges associated with directly observing processes that are important to SOFC performance and durability. In situ optical methods can provide direct insight into reaction mechanisms that can be inferred only indirectly from electrochemical measurements such as voltammetry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and from kinetic models and postmortem, ex situ examinations of SOFC components. Particular attention is devoted to recent advances that, hopefully, will spur the development of new generations of efficient, versatile energy-producing devices.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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