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Pt/Cr and Pt/Ni Catalysts for Oxygen Reduction Reaction: To Alloy or Not to Alloy?

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Bimetallic systems such as Pt-based alloys or non-alloys have exhibited interesting catalytic properties but pose a major challenge of not knowing a priori how the electronic and chemical properties will be modified relative to the parent metals. In this work, we present the origin of the changes in the reactivity of Pt/Cr and Pt/Ni catalysts, which have been of wide interest in fuel cell research. Using spin-polarized density functional theory calculations, we have shown that the modification of Pt surface reactivity in Pt/Ni is purely of geometric origin (strain). We have also found that the Pt-Ni bonding is very weak, which explains the observed instability of Pt-Ni catalysts under electrochemical measurements. On the other hand, Pt/Cr systems are governed by strong ligand effect (metal–metal interaction), which explains the experimentally observed reactivity dependence on the relative composition of the alloying components. The general characteristics of the potential energy curves for O2 dissociative adsorption on the bimetallic systems and the pure Pt clarify why the d-band center still works for Pt/Cr despite the strong Pt-Cr bonding and high spin polarization of Pt d-states. On the basis of the above clarifications, viable Pt-Cr and Pt-Ni structures, which involve nano-sized alloys and non-alloy bulk catalyst, which may strike higher than the currently observed oxidation reduction reaction activity are proposed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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