Hydrogen fuel cells are growing in popularity. They can mix hydrogen with air and produce electricity at efficiencies of up to 60 per cent, without producing any damaging byproducts. However, there are challenges to overcome in order for hydrogen fuel cells to be more widely adopted. Dr Jae-Bum Pyo, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea, is exploring the mechanical durability of the electrode, which is the core of the hydrogen fuel cell. He and his team hope to improve the reliability of hydrogen fuel cells, thereby also improving industry uptake. The core reaction of electricity generation takes place in the electrode of the hydrogen fuel cell. It is composed of nanopores, which makes it fragile and means that mechanical damage can occur. One of the key reasons for mechanical damage is the tensile load caused by hygrothermal buckling of electrolyte menbrane. In order to overcome such issue, Pyo and the team have developed a technique to separate the electrode from the coating substrate. This means that the researchers are able to study the changes in the hygrothermal deformation characteristics of the electrodes and has enabled them to uncover a correlation between the changes in the characteristics and mechanical degradation. The team therefore investigated the modification of the nanostructures of the electrodes and how these findings could help to improve the mechanical properties of the electrodes.