Tailoring the composition of ultrathin, ternary alloy PtRuFe nanowires for the methanol oxidation reaction and formic acid oxidation reaction†
In the search for alternatives to conventional Pt electrocatalysts, we have synthesized ultrathin, ternary PtRuFe nanowires (NW), possessing different chemical compositions in order to probe their CO tolerance as well as electrochemical activity as a function of composition for both (i) the methanol oxidation reaction (MOR) and (ii) the formic acid oxidation reaction (FAOR). As-prepared ‘multifunctional’ ternary NW catalysts exhibited both higher MOR and FAOR activity as compared with mono-metallic Pt NWs, binary Pt7Ru3 and Pt7Fe3 NWs, and commercial catalyst control samples. In terms of synthetic novelty, we utilized a sustainably mild, ambient wet-synthesis method never previously applied to the fabrication of crystalline, pure ternary systems in order to fabricate ultrathin, homogeneous alloy PtRuFe NWs with a range of controlled compositions. These NWs were subsequently characterized using a suite of techniques including XRD, TEM, SAED, and EDAX in order to verify not only the incorporation of Ru and Fe into the Pt lattice but also their chemical homogeneity, morphology, as well as physical structure and integrity. Lastly, these NWs were electrochemically tested in order to deduce the appropriateness of conventional explanations such as (i) the bi-functional mechanism as well as (ii) the ligand effect to account for our MOR and FAOR reaction data. Specifically, methanol oxidation appears to be predominantly influenced by the Ru content, whereas formic acid oxidation is primarily impacted by the corresponding Fe content within the ternary metal alloy catalyst itself.