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The Role of Nanocluster Aggregation, Coalescence, and Recrystallization in the Electrochemical Deposition of Platinum Nanostructures

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posted on 08.04.2014, 00:00 by Jon Ustarroz, Thomas Altantzis, Joshua A. Hammons, Annick Hubin, Sara Bals, Herman Terryn
By using an optimized characterization approach that combines aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy, electron tomography, and in situ ultrasmall angle X-ray scattering (USAXS), we show that the early stages of Pt electrochemical growth on carbon substrates may be affected by the aggregation, self-alignment, and partial coalescence of nanoclusters of d ≈ 2 nm. The morphology of the resulting nanostructures depends on the degree of coalescence and recrystallization of nanocluster aggregates, which in turn depends on the electrodeposition potential. At low overpotentials, a self-limiting growth mechanism may block the epitaxial growth of primary nanoclusters and results in loose dendritic aggregates. At more negative potentials, the extent of nanocluster coalescence and recrystallization is larger and further growth by atomic incorporation may be allowed. On one hand, this suggests a revision of the Volmer–Weber island growth mechanism. Whereas this theory has traditionally assumed direct attachment as the only growth mechanism, it is suggested that nanocluster self-limiting growth, aggregation, and coalescence should also be taken into account during the early stages of nanoscale electrodeposition. On the other hand, depending on the deposition potential, ultrahigh porosities can be achieved, turning electrodeposition in an ideal process for highly active electrocatalyst production without the need of using high surface area carbon supports.

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