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A little gold can reduce the Pt loading in fuel cells

By Paul Grad |

A challenge in the development of polymer-electrolyte membrane fuel cells is the durability and electrocatalytic activity of platinum-based electrocatalysts. The sluggishness of the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) causes the fuel cell performance to be limited by the cathodic reaction, and a high Pt loading is required for the cathode catalyst to achieve good activity for the ORR. Now researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN; Singapore: www.ibn.a-star.edu.sg), led by IBN executive director, professor Jackie Y. Ying, have discovered that by replacing the central part of the catalyst with a gold-copper alloy and leaving just the outer layer in platinum, a superior electrocatalytic activity and excellent stability toward the ORR are achieved. The researchers reported the synthesis of core-shell AuCu@Pt nanoparticles by depositing Pt on preformed AuCu-alloy nanoparticles in oleylamine. The AuCu alloy core has a slightly smaller lattice parameter than Pt, creating a beneficial compressive strain effect on the Pt shell. In contrast, a tensile strain effect would be induced by depositing Pt on a core of Au — which has a larger lattice parameter than Pt — leading to a lower catalytic activity. In…
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