Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Nanoscale Science and Engineering


Nanoscale Engineering

Content Description

1 online resource (viii, 43 pages) : illustrations (chiefly color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Harry Efstathiadis

Committee Members

Hassa Bakhru, Carl Ventrice, Nate Cady, Costas Minas


Bipolar Plates, Coatings, Corrosion, Nanotechnology, PEM Fuel Cells, Titanium Nitride, Proton exchange membrane fuel cells, Titanium nitride, Protective coatings, Corrosion and anti-corrosives, Stainless steel

Subject Categories

Materials Science and Engineering | Nanoscience and Nanotechnology


High cost and short lifetime are the two main reasons why the PEM fuel cell has not reached a widespread, disruptive level of commercialization. Conventional graphite bipolar plates are responsible for about 45% of the cost and 85% of the total weight of a single cell. These measures are linked to difficult machining of thick, brittle graphite and processing needed to render graphite non-porous. Stainless steel is suggested as the replacement bipolar plate material due to its favorable mechanical properties, ease of manufacturing and relatively low price, but requires a cost-effective coating as a non-conductive oxide forms on the bare stainless-steel surface in PEMFC environment. This study aims to demonstrate improvements made to PVD coatings of TiN by integrating an additional thin, pure-Ti layer between substrate and coating, as has been extensively studied in integrated circuit manufacturing, biomedical coatings, and thin film photovoltaic applications, to minimize coating defects that currently prevent these coatings from widespread commercial use. We are not aware of any previous studies that have directly evaluated the strategy’s effectiveness for stainless steel BPP corrosion protection in PEMFC.