Atomic-Layer Electroless Deposition on Noble Metal Powders

Monday, 6 October 2014: 16:00
Expo Center, 1st Floor, Universal 11 (Moon Palace Resort)
D. B. Robinson, P. J. Cappillino, G. M. Buffleben, M. Salloum (Sandia National Laboratories), D. M. Benson, and J. L. Stickney (The University of Georgia)
Palladium has important applications in an array of fields including hydrogen storage and sensing, chemical catalysis and fuel cells. It offers high volumetric power density in metal hydride batteries and pseudocapacitors. However, the rates of hydride formation and hydrogen release in such applications are often limited by the high stability of the surface hydride formed on Pd. Theoretical and experimental reports suggest that adlayers of metals that form weaker surface Pd-H interactions can destabilize the surface hydride, which should facilitate hydrogen transport.

We have developed a room-temperature electroless atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique in which we grow such layers on palladium powder. This is in contrast to electrochemical ALD, which requires applying a current to a substrate, and to gas-phase ALD, which requires elevated temperatures that can damage some substrates. Exposing a suspension of powder to dilute hydrogen/nitrogen gas mixtures causes a surface hydride to form. Subsequent addition of a solution containing noble metal salts displaces the surface hydride with the reduced metal in a surface-limited reaction. This process can be repeated, and the thickness of the surface coverage increases, as shown by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

This technique requires no specialized equipment, and makes use of benign reagents. It is surface-limited in nature, but is not limited to an electrode. This confers important advantages of high scalability and compatibility with complex surface topologies; conductive substrates are not required. We believe that this versatile technique could be widely applied by synthetic chemists to take advantage of enhanced catalytic properties of near-surface alloys.

In addition to details on the preparation and characterization of Pd powder with adlayers of other noble metals, we will show evidence of enhanced hydrogen transport in these samples. A kinetic model for this process that includes gas flow, solid-state hydrogen diffusion and surface hydride formation will be presented.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. SAND2013-8925A