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Advantages of eutectic alloys for creating catalysts in the realm of nanotechnology-enabled metallurgy.

Abstract

The nascent field of nanotechnology-enabled metallurgy has great potential. However, the role of eutectic alloys and the nature of alloy solidification in this field are still largely unknown. To demonstrate one of the promises of liquid metals in the field, we explore a model system of catalytically active Bi-Sn nano-alloys produced using a liquid-phase ultrasonication technique and investigate their phase separation, surface oxidation, and nucleation. The Bi-Sn ratio determines the grain boundary properties and the emergence of dislocations within the nano-alloys. The eutectic system gives rise to the smallest grain dimensions among all Bi-Sn ratios along with more pronounced dislocation formation within the nano-alloys. Using electrochemical CO2 reduction and photocatalysis, we demonstrate that the structural peculiarity of the eutectic nano-alloys offers the highest catalytic activity in comparison with their non-eutectic counterparts. The fundamentals of nano-alloy formation revealed here may establish the groundwork for creating bimetallic and multimetallic nano-alloys.

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