Hydrogen storage in magnesium based thin films

Akyıldız, Hasan
A study was carried out for the production of Mg-based thin films which can absorb and desorb hydrogen near ambient conditions, with fast kinetics. For this purpose, two deposition units were constructed; one high vacuum (HV) and the other ultra high vacuum (UHV) deposition system. The HV system was based on a pyrex bell jar and had two independent evaporation sources. The unit was used to deposit films of Mg, Mg capped with Pd and Au-Pd as well as Mg-Cu both in co-deposited and multilayered form within a thickness range of 0.4 to 1.5 μm. The films were crystalline with columnar grains having some degree of preferred orientation. In terms of hydrogen storage properties, Mg/Pd system yielded the most favorable results. These films could desorb hydrogen at temperatures not greater than 473 K. The study on crystalline thin films has further shown that there is a narrow temperature window for useful hydrogenation of thin films, the upper limit of which is determined by the intermetallic formation. The UHV deposition system had four independent evaporation sources and incorporated substrate cooling by circulating cooled nitrogen gas through the substrate holder. Thin films of Mg-Cu were produced in this unit via co-evaporation technique to provide concentrations of 5, 10 and 15 at. % Cu. The films were 250-300 nm thick, capped with a thin layer of Pd, i.e. 5-25 nm. The deposition was yielded nanocrystalline or amorphous Mg-Cu thin films depending on the substrate temperature. At 298 K, the films were crystalline, the structure being refined with the increase in Cu content. At 223 K, the films were amorphous, except for Mg:Cu=95:5. The hydrogen sorption of the films was followed by resistance measurements, with the samples heated isochronally, initially under hydrogen and then under vacuum. The resistance data have shown that hydrogen sorption behaviour of thin films was improved by size refinement, and further by amorphization. Among the films deposited, amorphous Mg:Cu=85:15 alloy could absorb hydrogen at room temperature and could desorb it at 223 K (50 ºC), with fast kinetics.