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Frontiers in Energy >> 2017, Volume 11, Issue 3 doi: 10.1007/s11708-017-0487-1

Design of efficient Pt-based electrocatalysts through characterization by X-ray absorption spectroscopy

. Synchrotron Catalysis Consortium and Columbia University, NY 10027, USA.. Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA

Accepted: 2017-08-21 Available online: 2017-09-07

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A method is described to determine the internal structure of electrocatalyst nanoparticles by X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). The nondestructive spectroscopic technique typically utilizing synchrotron radiation as the source measures changes in the X-ray absorption coefficient as a function of energy. The bulk technique has found its use for materials characterization in all scientific areas, including nanomaterials. The analysis of the internal structure of nanoparticles reveals interatomic distances and coordination numbers for each element, and their values and mutual relations indicate whether the elements form a homogeneous or heterogeneous mixture. The core-shell heterogeneous structure in which certain elements are predominantly located in the core, and others form the encapsulating shell is of particular importance in catalysis and electrocatalysis because it may reduce the amount of precious metals in nanoparticles by replacing the atoms in the core of nanoparticles with more abundant and cheaper alternatives. The examples of nanoparticle structures designed in the laboratory and the approach to model efficient catalysts through systematic analysis of XAS data in electrochemical systems consisting of two and three metals are also demonstrated.

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