Redox titration of gold and platinum surface oxides at porous microelectrodes†
The extension of the surface interrogation mode of scanning electrochemical microscopy (SI-SECM) is demonstrated for porous electrode materials. These materials are often high surface area powders which are very important electrocatalysts for instance in fuel cells or water electrolyzers. The powdered electrocatalyst material is filled into a cavity-microelectrode which is then operated as the sample electrode in SECM. After a surface oxide generation step, the oxides on the porous sample are reduced by [Ru(NH3)6]2+ formed at the microelectrode probe of the SECM while the sample is at open circuit potential. Such porous electrodes pose the difficulty to cope with unavoidable variations in the filling of the cavity and to access the entire surface by the mediator. The electrochemically active surface area is used to compensate the variation in filling. It can also be used for calculating coverages of surface oxides for a better comparison between different electrodes. We found a complete and fast accessibility for all investigated porous electrodes which is based on electron transfer. Therefore, we propose a “vertical feedback” mechanism analogous to SECM feedback experiments on extended flat samples at open circuit potential. Moreover, the current transients indicate that distinctive oxide species with different kinetics are present. Taken together, these measures ensure consistent determination of oxide coverages for nanoporous gold and carbon-supported platinum nanoparticles.