Typical fiber diameters are between 5 and 10 um, typical porosities of GDLs are between 70 and 90 %. Instead of carbon cloths, also carbon papers are employed as gas diffusion layers (one example shown in the left image). Here, a 3D visualization of the 3D acquired again by X-ray computed tomography is shown. In a carbon paper based GDL, the fibers run approximately straight and are parallel to the plane defined by the carbon paper.
Quite frequently, gas diffusion layers are investigated by scanning electron microscopy which is a standard microscopy technique (not shown here). This technique allows not only the investigation of GDLs with much higher resolution (in the nm-regime), but also the discrimination of PTFE from the carbon fibers which is difficult in X-ray computed tomography.
Images published in: A. Pfrang, D. Veyret, G. Tsotridis, Investigation of gas diffusion layers of PEM fuel cells by x-ray computed tomography, Ulm ElectroChemical Talks 2010, Ulm, Germany, June 2010