February 2, 2009

Nano beads build minuscule hydrogen catalysts

Grow the tiniest gold-platinum nanoparticles on microscopic plastic beads, leech away the gold, and you're left with an efficient catalyst for generating hydrogen for fuel cells.

The process begins with forming 2 to 3 nanometer particles of a gold-platinum alloy in tangles of polymer molecules on the surfaces of 100 nanometer latex beads. Slowly removing the gold leaves highly-faceted platinum nanocrystals. The polymer keeps the nanocrystals from clumping together.

The small size and sharply defined faces of the platinum nanocrystals make them highly reactive. The nanocrystals proved to be efficient catalysts in laboratory tests.

Platinum nanocrystals are commonly used as hydrogen catalysts, but it's difficult to make platinum crystals smaller than 100 nanometers.

Research paper:
Single Nanocrystals of Platinum Prepared by Partial Dissolution of Au-Pt Nanoalloys
Science, January 30, 2009

Researchers' homepages:
Marc Schrinner
Matthias Ballauff
Yeshayahu Talmon
Yaron Kauffmann
Josef Breu

Related stories and briefs:
Aluminum's shape key to making hydrogen -- related research
Cheap catalyst makes hydrogen from biofuel -- related research

Back to ERN February 9/16, 2009



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