Research Article

Engineering bunched Pt-Ni alloy nanocages for efficient oxygen reduction in practical fuel cells

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Science  15 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6467, pp. 850-856
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw7493

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Nanocage-chain fuel cell catalysts

The expense and scarcity of platinum has driven efforts to improve oxygen-reduction catalysts in proton-exchange membrane fuel cells. Tian et al. synthesized chains of platinum-nickel alloy nanospheres connected by necking regions. These structures can be etched to form nanocages with platinum-rich surfaces that are highly active for oxygen reduction. In fuel cells running on air and hydrogen, these catalysts operated for at least 180 hours.

Science, this issue p. 850


Development of efficient and robust electrocatalysts is critical for practical fuel cells. We report one-dimensional bunched platinum-nickel (Pt-Ni) alloy nanocages with a Pt-skin structure for the oxygen reduction reaction that display high mass activity (3.52 amperes per milligram platinum) and specific activity (5.16 milliamperes per square centimeter platinum), or nearly 17 and 14 times higher as compared with a commercial platinum on carbon (Pt/C) catalyst. The catalyst exhibits high stability with negligible activity decay after 50,000 cycles. Both the experimental results and theoretical calculations reveal the existence of fewer strongly bonded platinum-oxygen (Pt-O) sites induced by the strain and ligand effects. Moreover, the fuel cell assembled by this catalyst delivers a current density of 1.5 amperes per square centimeter at 0.6 volts and can operate steadily for at least 180 hours.

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