Rethinking the Gas Diffusible Catalyst Layer with d-Band Tuned Pt Skeleton and Controlled Pore and Bone Size
Pt usage has to be minimized since it will be responsible for over 50% of the system costs in PEMFC.
These problems can be circumvented using mesoporous Pt skeleton layers where H+ probably migrate across the surface and/or diffuse in H2O, like in the nanostructured thin films (NSTF) . Additionally in our approach no carbon support and Nafion is needed – it is supportless and ionomerless.
Pt skeleton was prepared by a dual-magnetron plasma-synthesis. The pore and bone scaling can be controlled by system parameters as pressure, deposition time, temperature and power.
For fundamental understanding of Pt skeleton it is necessary to investigate the influence of the solid to pore ratio on the performance.
In this work a Pt skeleton was synthesized by alternated sputtering of Pt and Co on gas diffusion layers and glassy carbon. The base metal was subsequently dissolved by an electrochemical treatment under acidic conditions, with the Pt skeleton remaining on the substrate. The remaining catalyst layer has a thickness of approximately 200 nm.
Cyclic voltammetry and oxygen reduction activity tests gave information on the global behaviour of the electrodes. Scanning Electron Microscopy was employed to investigate pore and bone morphology. It was possible to produce a Pt skeleton with different pore sizes and bone diameter. Furthermore Pt can be tuned by the remaining Co in the catalyst. The Cobalt remains in the catalyst layer which was tested also for different system parameters. The remaining Co was investigated by the d-band shift of the catalysts by XPS and the corresponding EDX atomic ratios before and after electrochemical testing.
The new approach of mesoporous Pt skeleton synthesized by a new plasma process is a revolution in catalyst layer architecture. The typical catalyst layer thickness can be reduced by a factor of 100 and there is no need for a corroding support. Furthermore Nafion as proton carrier can be excluded and therefore limiting anion adsorption can be avoided.
Our new approach could also be used for air electrodes or electrolyzers as the Power to Gas technology is going forward.
Figure 1: Scheme of the proposed reaction mechanism in the oxygen reduction reaction of Pt skeleton (left) and a SEM picture of Pt skeleton (right)
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