Beyond conventional electrocatalysts: hollow nanoparticles for improved and sustainable oxygen reduction reaction activity†
Long-term catalytic performance of electrode materials is a well-established research priority in electrochemical energy conversion and storage systems, such as proton-exchange membrane fuel cells. Despite extensive efforts in research and development, Pt-based nanoparticles remain the only – but an unstable – electrocatalyst able to accelerate efficiently the rate of the oxygen reduction reaction. This paper describes the synthesis and the atomic-scale characterization of hollow Pt-rich/C nanocrystallites, which achieve 4-fold and 5-fold enhancement in specific activity for the oxygen reduction reaction over standard solid Pt/C nanocrystallites of the same size in liquid electrolyte and during real proton-exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) testing, respectively. More importantly, the hollow nanocrystallites can sustain this level of performance during accelerated stress tests, therefore opening new perspectives for the design of improved PEMFC cathode materials.