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Tuning the Catalytic Oxygen Reduction Reaction Performance of Pt-Ni Octahedral Nanoparticles by Acid Treatments and Thermal Annealing

Beermann, Vera; Kühl, Stefanie; Strasser, Peter

FG Technische Chemie

Shape controlled octahedral Pt-Ni alloy nanoparticles are promising oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) electrocatalysts for cathodes of low temperature Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells. Organic surfactants are used in order to control and tune particle composition, size, shape, and the distribution on the support material. Such methods request intense post-synthesis cleaning, or annealing procedures in order to remove the ligands, demanding for simpler cleaning and activation procedures. Here, we explore the effect of an acetic acid treatment of as-prepared Pt-Ni particles, applied prior to annealing. The resulting nanoparticles underwent an electrochemical surface characterization and were investigated in terms of their ORR activities and electrochemical long-term stability. After acid treatment the particles exhibit a Pt-rich surface, which changed slightly during annealing at 300°C but drastically to a more homogeneous alloy after annealing at 500°C due to Ni surface segregation. Besides changes in the (sub-)surface Pt and Ni composition, the octahedral shape did not survive the 500°C treatment. An improved ORR activity was obtained after annealing at 300°C. Our insights into effects and benefits of the described post-synthesis treatments aid our general understanding, but also may help improve the practical design of suitable treatment protocols of this class of ORR catalyst.