Hollow alloy nanostructures templated by Au nanorods: synthesis, mechanistic insights, and electrocatalytic activity
A unique methodology having access to Au nanorods (AuNRs)-based hollow alloy nanostructures has been developed. The syntheses and characterization of the hollow Pt–Au nanoalloys with ellipsoidal and cylindrical shapes together with a rattle-type hollow Cu–Au nanoheterostructure are described. Unlike the conventional nanoscale Kirkendall process, the formation of these AuNRs-based hollow nanostructures occurs under extremely mild conditions, indicating a distinctive underlying mechanism. The key step for this present synthesis method is the incubation of AuNRs with CuCl2 at 60 °C in the presence of hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) or hexadecyltrimethylammonium chloride (CTAC). The selective etching of the tips of AuNRs caused by Cu2+ ions combined with the dissolved molecular oxygen promotes the generation of defects and vacancies, leading to a facile alloying reaction by the crystal fusion of AuNRs. Particularly, the results of the formation of the hollow nanoalloys in conjunction with various control experiments demonstrate that the halide ions that are specifically adsorbed on the AuNR surface afford sinks for vacancy accumulation and condensation during the unbalanced interdiffusion of alloying atoms, presumably because of the disproportion in the equilibrium concentration of vacancies. Thus, the void formation becomes kinetically favorable. The Pt–Au nanocages can provide modified surface electronic structures, resulting from their non-uniform crystalline structures and the surface segregation of Pt in the nanocages. These characteristics enable them to exhibit excellent electrocatalytic performance for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR).