Discovery of a Multinary Noble Metal–Free Oxygen Reduction Catalyst

Löffler, T. and Meyer, H. and Savan, A. and Wilde, P. and Garzón Manjón, A. and Chen, Y.-T. and Ventosa, E. and Scheu, C. and Ludwig, Al. and Schuhmann, W.

Volume: 8 Pages:
DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201802269
Published: 2018

In the endeavor of discovering new noble metal–free electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction, noble metal–free multinary transition metal nanoparticle libraries are investigated. The complexity of such multiple principal element alloys provides access to a large variety of different elemental compositions, each with potentially unique properties. The strategy for efficient identification of novel electrocatalytically active systems comprises combinatorial co-sputtering into an ionic liquid followed by potential-assisted immobilization of the formed nanoparticles at a microelectrode which allows the evaluation of their intrinsic electrocatalytic activity in alkaline media. A surprisingly high intrinsic activity is found for the system Cr–Mn–Fe–Co–Ni, which is at least comparable to Pt under the same conditions, an unexpected result based on the typical properties of its constituents. Systematic removal of each element from the quinary alloy system yields a significant drop in activity for all quaternary alloys, indicating the importance of the synergistic combination of all five elements, likely due to formation of a single solid solution phase with altered properties which enables the limitations of the single elements to be overcome. Multinary transition metal alloys as a novel material class in electrocatalysis with basically unlimited possibilities for catalyst design, targeting the replacement of noble metal–based materials, are suggested. © 2018 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

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