Solid oxide fuel cells need a diffusion barrier layer to protect the zirconia-based electrolyte if a cobalt-containing cathode material like lanthanum strontium cobalt ferrite (LSCF) is used. This protective layer must prevent the direct contact and interdiffusion of both components while still retaining the oxygen ion transport. Gadolinium-doped ceria (GDC) meets these requirements. However, for a favorable cell performance, oxide ion conducting films that are thin yet dense are required. Films with a thickness in the sub-micrometer to micrometer range were produced by the dry room temperature spray-coating technique, aerosol deposition. Since commercially available GDC powders are usually optimized for the sintering of screen printed films or pressed bulk samples, their particle morphology is nanocrystalline with a high surface area that is not suitable for aerosol deposition. Therefore, different thermal and mechanical powder pretreatment procedures were investigated and linked to the morphology and integrity of the sprayed films. Only if a suitable pretreatment was conducted, dense and well-adhering GDC films were deposited. Otherwise, low-strength films were formed. The ionic conductivity of the resulting dense films was characterized by impedance spectroscopy between 300 °C and 1000 °C upon heating and cooling. A mild annealing occurred up to 900 °C during first heating that slightly increased the electric conductivity of GDC films formed by aerosol deposition.
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