Metal Bond Strength Regulation Enables Large-scale Synthesis of Intermetallic Nanocrystals for Practical Fuel Cells

31 January 2023, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Structurally ordered L10-PtM (M = Fe, Co, Ni, etc) intermetallic nanocrystals (iNCs), benefiting from the chemically ordered structure and higher stability, are one of the best electrocatalysts used for PEMFC. However, their practical development is greatly plagued by the challenge that high-temperature annealing (> 700 °C) has to be used for realizing disorder-order phase transition (DOPT) due to the high activation barrier (Ea), which always leads to severe particle sintering, morphology change, and makes it highly challenging for gram-scale preparation of desirable PtM iNCs. Here, we report a general low-melting-point metal induced bond strength weakening strategy to promote DOPT of PtM (M = Ni, Fe, Cu, Zn) alloy catalysts. We demonstrate that the introduction of Sn can reduce DOPT temperature to a record-low temperature (≤ 450 °C), which enables ten-gram-scale preparation of high-performance L10-PtM iNCs. X-ray spectroscopic studies, in-situ electron microscopy and theoretical calculations reveal that the Sn-facilitated DOPT mechanism at record-low temperature involves the weakened bond strength and reduced Ea via Sn doping, the formation and fast diffusion of low coordinated surface free atom, and subsequent L10 nucleation. Most importantly, the 15% Sn-doped L10-PtNi iNCs display outstanding performance in H2-air fuel cells with a high peak power density of 1.45 W cm-2 for Pt alloy catalysts and less than 25% activity loss after 30000 cycles at a quite low cathode Pt loading amount of 0.12 mg¬Pt cm-2, representing as one of the most efficient cathodic electrocatalyst for PEMFCs.


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