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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effects of Catalyst Processing on the Activity and Stability of Pt-Ni Nanoframe Electrocatalysts.


Pt-based alloys have shown great promise as cathodic catalysts for cost-effective proton-exchange membrane fuel cells. Post-synthesis treatment has been recognized as a critical step to improve the catalytic performance of Pt-based alloys. Here, we present the effects of catalyst processing on the catalytic behavior of Pt-Ni nanoframe electrocatalysts in oxygen reduction reaction. The Pt-Ni nanoframes were made by corroding the Ni-rich phase from solid rhombic dodecahedral particles. A total of three different corrosion procedures were compared. Among them, electrochemical corrosion led to the highest initial specific activity (1.35 mA cm-2 at 0.95 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode) by retaining more Ni in the nanoframes. However, the high activity gradually went down in a subsequent stability test due to continuous Ni loss and concomitant surface reconstruction. On the other hand, the best stability was achieved by a more-aggressive corrosion using oxidative nitric acid. Although the initial activity was compromised, this procedure imparted a less-defective surface, and thus, the specific activity dropped by only 7% over 30 000 potential cycles. These results indicate a delicate trade-off between the activity and stability of Pt-Ni nanoframe electrocatalysts. The obtained understanding of how to balance the activity-stability trade-off via catalyst processing can be generalized to other Pt-based alloys.

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