National Research Council of Canada. National Institute for Nanotechnology
single Pt-Ru nanoparticle structure; electrocatalyst; nano-beam electron diffraction; microemulsion
Individual Pt-Ru nanoparticles (NPs) supported on multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) synthesized by microemulsion method were characterized by nano beam diffraction (NBD) and high resolution imaging in transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Comparing the TEM images and NBD to simulations provided insight into particle composition, structure and morphology in three dimensions. In particular, the NBD allowed us to detect various components of the individual NPs that would be difficult to observe otherwise. We find that the NPs contain four different components: Pt–RuO2, Pt–Ru, RuO2 and metallic Pt. Often an individual NP is composed of more than one component. The most frequently encountered external morphology is close to a spherical shape and ~3.7 nm in diameter. The collective properties of NPs' assemblies were studied by thermogravimetry, differential thermal analysis and x-ray diffraction. The results allowed us to gain some insight into the relation of the NPs' structure and composition with their catalytic performance, and revealed the presence of components not detectable by bulk methods. The electrocatalytic properties were evaluated by CO stripping, methanol oxidation and oxygen reduction. Bulk characterization methods miss many properties and structures present in the sample due to low volume fraction and due to overlap of reflections. Single NPs should be analyzed to obtain reliable indication of sample composition.
Materials Research Express1, no. 4, 045026: 045026-1–045026-23.