Hybrid alloys among gold, palladium and platinum become a new category of catalysts primarily due to their enhanced catalytic effects. Enhancement means not only their effectiveness, but also their uniqueness as catalysts for the reactions that individual metals may not catalyze. Here, preparation of hollow Au@Pd and Au@Pt core–shell nanoparticles (NPs) and their use as electrocatalysts are reported. Galvanic displacement with Ag NPs is used to obtain hollow NPs, and higher reduction potential of Au compared to Ag, Pd, and Pt helps to produce hollow Au cores first, followed by Pd or Pt shell growth. Continuous and highly crystalline shell growth was observed in Au@Pd core–shell NPs, but the sporadic and porous-like structure was observed in Au@Pt core–shell NPs. Along with hollow core–shell NPs, hollow porous Pt and hollow Au NPs are also prepared from Ag seed NPs. Twin boundaries which are typically observed in large size (>20 nm) Au NPs were not observed in hollow Au NPs. This absence is believed to be due to the role of the hollows, which significantly reduce the strain energy of edges where the two lattice planes meet. In ethanol oxidation reactions in alkaline medium, hollow Au@Pd core–shell NPs show highest current density in forward scan. Hollow Au@Pt core–shell NPs maintain better catalytic activities than metallic Pt, which is thought to be due to the better crystallinity of Pt shells as well as the alloy effect of Au cores.
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