Platinum-based nanocages with subnanometer-thick walls and well-defined, controllable facets

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Science  24 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6246, pp. 412-416
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0801

Etching platinum nanocage catalysts

Although platinum is an excellent catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction that occurs in fuel cells, its scarcity continues to drive efforts to improve its utilization. Zhang et al. made nanocages of platinum by coating palladium nanocrystals with only a few layers of platinum and then etching away the palladium core (see the Perspective by Strasser). Platinum nanocages made using nanoscale octahedra and cubes of palladium displayed different catalytic activity for the oxygen reduction reaction.

Science, this issue p. 412; see also p. 379


A cost-effective catalyst should have a high dispersion of the active atoms, together with a controllable surface structure for the optimization of activity, selectivity, or both. We fabricated nanocages by depositing a few atomic layers of platinum (Pt) as conformal shells on palladium (Pd) nanocrystals with well-defined facets and then etching away the Pd templates. Density functional theory calculations suggest that the etching is initiated via a mechanism that involves the formation of vacancies through the removal of Pd atoms incorporated into the outermost layer during the deposition of Pt. With the use of Pd nanoscale cubes and octahedra as templates, we obtained Pt cubic and octahedral nanocages enclosed by {100} and {111} facets, respectively, which exhibited distinctive catalytic activities toward oxygen reduction.

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