Structural and Electrocatalytic Properties of PtIrCo/C Catalysts for Oxygen Reduction Reaction

This paper describes the results of an investigation of the synthesis of PtIrCo nanoparticles (2−3 nm) for electrocatalytic oxygen reduction reaction. The carbon-supported PtIrCo catalysts (PtIrCo/C) were thermally treated at temperatures ranging from 400 to 900 °C. The size, composition, and atomic-scale structures of the PtIrCo/C catalysts were characterized for establishing their correlation with the electrocatalytic activity toward oxygen reduction reaction. The specific activity was found to increase by a factor of 3−5 for the PtIrCo/C catalysts in comparison with Pt/C catalysts. A correlation was identified between the specific activity and the nanoparticle’s fcc-type lattice parameter. The specific activity increases whereas the fcc-type lattice parameter decreases with the thermal treatment temperature. This correlation was further substantiated by analyzing the interatomic spatial parameters in the trimetallic nanoparticles based on X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopic and high-energy XRD experiments. Implications of these findings, along with the durability of the catalysts, to the design of active electrocatalysts were also discussed.