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Nanostructured electrocatalytic materials synthesis by plasma-assisted platinum deposition on carbon carriers

Keywords:

A. A. Fedotov – Research engineer, Center of Physical and Chemical Technology. E-mail: fedotov-a-a@yandex.ru
S. A. Grigoriev – Dr.Sc. (Eng.), Assotiate Professor, Center of Physical and Chemical Technology. E-mail: grig@hepti.kiae.ru br> V. N. Fateev – Dr.Sc. (Chem.), Professor, Deputy Director of Center of Physical and Chemical Technology. E-mail: fat@hepti.kiae.ru


Nowadays physical synthesis methods of platinum electrocatalysts on the carbon carriers don’t almost yield in efficiency to the chemical ones and even have some advantages. For example, magnetron sputtering is a one-step process of high productivity, leading to the formation of metal nano-particles with narrow size distribution and avoiding the formation of poisoning by-products. In present study plasma-assisted platinum deposition on the carbon carriers for proton-exchange membrane (PEM) electrochemical cells electrocatalysts was carried out in the conventional DC magnetron sputtering system. Vulcan XC-72, carbon nanotubes and nanofibers were used as the carbon carrier. For some cases the initial carrier was exposed to chemical pretreatment or metallization. Synthesized samples of electrocatalysts were analyzed by TGA, SEM, TEM, XRD, CVA methods. The electrochemical performances of Pt/C and Pt-Pd/C samples were studied in PEM fuel cell, single-cell water electrolyser and unitized reversible fuel cell. Sample’s analyses confirm magnetron sputtering deposition effectiveness as a method to obtain high-quality carbonsupported platinum electrocatalysts. High active surface area (up to 44 m2/g), high chemical purity and high electrochemical activity are shown for a number of synthesized samples. The influence of sputtering parameters and carrier properties on electrocatalysts characteristics is discussed. Specifically the negative bias voltage affects positively on platinum particles deposition quality. It is shown that the initial nucleation stage is critical for all the further deposition process. The carbonaceous carriers (especially carbon nano-tubes and carbon nano-fibers) must be carefully pretreated in order to obtain uniform metal particles distribution at the carbon surface. Addition of PTFE provides better stirring of the Vulcan XC-72 carrier powder and leads to the formation of more uniformly deposited particles. The method can also be used for the synthesis of carbon-supported bi-metallic (core-shell) structures, in which, for example, the platinum shell covers more cheap and available palladium core.
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