UCLA researchers in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Material Science and Engineering, have developed a single-atom tailoring method to boost the electrocatalytic activity of platinum-based catalysts with low loss of generatable current.
Platinum is the most universal catalyst for electrochemical energy conversion systems, mainly due in part to its high stability and intrinsic electrocatalytic activity. This electrocatalytic activity stems from the specific activity (SA) of the metal or, more generally, the current that can be generated for a unit surface area. Considering the scarcity of platinum, much research has been invested in the minimization of the amount of platinum while retaining a high SA: in the past decades, this goal has not been realized. Currently, synthetic protocols sacrifice SA for the purpose of conserving platinum, which has led to limited advances in electrocatalysis.
UCLA researchers have developed a single-atom tailoring method to boost the electrocatalytic activity of platinum-based catalysts with low loss of SA. The researchers begin with platinum-nickel alloy nanowires that, through electrochemical dealloying, are turned into single atom nickel platinum nanowires. These nanowires feature abundant activated platinum sites with minimal blockage due to neighboring single-atom nickel sites. The researchers have therefore developed a strategy to minimize platinum usage in catalysis without sacrificing electrocatalytic activity. This work may help to significantly propel the fields of electrochemical energy conversion, and storage.
The single atom decoration technique has been utilized to produce platinum-nickel nanowires, that minimize the mass of platinum needed to retain high numbers of active sites.