Thin Film Single Chamber Microfuel Cell

Technology #9570

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Micro fuel cell
Professor Harry Tuller
Department of Material Science and Engineering, MIT
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Joshua Hertz
Department of Material Science and Engineering, MIT
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Jim Freedman
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Chemicals, Instruments, Consumer Products
Patent Protection

Micro fuel cell

US Patent 7,871,734

Microfabrication of portable fuel cells that can operate on a broad range of fuels.


Applications include microelectronics, MEMS, thin film batteries, and microfuel cells.

Problem Addressed

This approach reduces manufacturing complexity by eliminating sealing and gas separation issues at high operating temperatures.


The thin-film single chamber fuel cell eliminates the need for sealing between the fuel and oxidizer chambers, simplifies the microfabrication process and can be integrated into existing VSLI processing. The electrolyte is a ceramic thin film, either yttria-stabilized zirconia or a ceria solid solution. The cathode and anode can be noble metals, cermets or mixed ionic-electronic conductors. One of the designs uses a pair of deposited interdigitated electrodes on the same side of a thin-film electrolyte, while the other places the electrodes on the opposite sides of an electrolyte.


  • Portable compact size
  • Reduced operating temperatures
  • Uses traditional alcohol or petroleum-based fuels rather than purified hydrogen