An activity lift for platinum

Platinum is an excellent but expensive catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), which is critical for fuel cells. Alloying platinum with other metals can create shells of platinum on cores of less expensive metals, which increases its surface exposure, and compressive strain in the layer can also boost its activity (see the Perspective by Stephens et al.). Bu et al. produced nanoplates—platinum-lead cores covered with platinum shells—that were in tensile strain. These nanoplates had high and stable ORR activity, which theory suggests arises from the strain optimizing the platinum-oxygen bond strength. Li et al. optimized both the amount of surface-exposed platinum and the specific activity. They made nanowires with a nickel oxide core and a platinum shell, annealed them to the metal alloy, and then leached out the nickel to form a rough surface. The mass activity was about double the best reported values from previous studies.
Science, this issue p. 1410, p. 1414; see also p. 1378


Compressive surface strains have been necessary to boost oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) activity in core/shell M/platinum (Pt) catalysts (where M can be nickel, cobalt, or iron). We report on a class of platinum-lead/platinum (PtPb/Pt) core/shell nanoplate catalysts that exhibit large biaxial strains. The stable Pt (110) facets of the nanoplates have high ORR specific and mass activities that reach 7.8 milliampere (mA) per centimeter squared and 4.3 ampere per milligram of platinum at 0.9 volts versus the reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE), respectively. Density functional theory calculations reveal that the edge-Pt and top (bottom)–Pt (110) facets undergo large tensile strains that help optimize the Pt-O bond strength. The intermetallic core and uniform four layers of Pt shell of the PtPb/Pt nanoplates appear to underlie the high endurance of these catalysts, which can undergo 50,000 voltage cycles with negligible activity decay and no apparent structure and composition changes.
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Supplementary Material


Materials and Methods
Figs. S1 to S28
Tables S1 to S3
References (3984)


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Published In

Volume 354 | Issue 6318
16 December 2016

Submission history

Received: 21 July 2016
Accepted: 2 November 2016
Published in print: 16 December 2016


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This work was financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFB0100201), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21571135 and 51671003), the Ministry of Science and Technology (2016YFA0204100), the start-up funding from Soochow University and Peking University, Young Thousand Talented Program, and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD). Part of the electron microscopy work was performed at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Basic Energy Science, under contract DE-SC0012704. The work at California State University Northridge was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office via the MURI grant W911NF-11-1-0353. We thank S. Cheng for his help in the simulation of STEM imaging. All data are reported in the main text and supplementary materials.



Lingzheng Bu
College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Soochow University, Jiangsu 215123, China.
Nan Zhang
College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Soochow University, Jiangsu 215123, China.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Department of Energy and Resources Engineering, College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
The Beijing Innovation Center for Engineering Science and Advanced Technology (BIC-ESAT), College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
Key Laboratory of Theory and Technology of Advanced Batteries Materials, College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
Xu Zhang
Department of Physics and Astronomy, California State University, Northridge, CA 91330, USA.
Jing Li
Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA.
Jianlin Yao
College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Soochow University, Jiangsu 215123, China.
Tao Wu
College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Soochow University, Jiangsu 215123, China.
Gang Lu
Department of Physics and Astronomy, California State University, Northridge, CA 91330, USA.
Jing-Yuan Ma
Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201204, China.
Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA.
Xiaoqing Huang* [email protected]
College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Soochow University, Jiangsu 215123, China.


*Corresponding author. Email: [email protected] (S.G.); [email protected] (D.S.); [email protected] (X.H.)

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