Formation of nanostructured porous Cu–Au surfaces: the influence of cationic sites on (electro)-catalysis†
The fabrication of nanostructured bimetallic materials through electrochemical routes offers the ability to control the composition and shape of the final material that can then be effectively applied as (electro)-catalysts. In this work a clean and transitory hydrogen bubble templating method is employed to generate porous Cu–Au materials with a highly anisotropic nanostructured interior. Significantly, the co-electrodeposition of copper and gold promotes the formation of a mixed bimetallic oxide surface which does not occur at the individually electrodeposited materials. Interestingly, the surface is dominated by Au(I) oxide species incorporated within a Cu2O matrix which is extremely effective for the industrially important (electro)-catalytic reduction of 4-nitrophenol. It is proposed that an aurophilic type of interaction takes place between both oxidized gold and copper species which stabilizes the surface against further oxidation and facilitates the binding of 4-nitrophenol to the surface and increases the rate of reaction. An added benefit is that very low gold loadings are required typically less than 2 wt% for a significant enhancement in performance to be observed. Therefore the ability to create a partially oxidized Cu–Au surface through a facile electrochemical route that uses a clean template consisting of only hydrogen bubbles should be of benefit for many more important reactions.