A series of palladium nanoparticles supported on carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which were functionalized covalently with imidazolium polymer salts with different anions, Pd/polyIL(X)–CNTs (IL=ionic liquid; X=Cl, Br, I, ClO4, BF4, PF6), were prepared to investigate the influence of imidazolim salt anions on electrocatalytic activity in the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). The anions of the imidazolium moiety significantly impacted on the ORR kinetics in a 0.1 M solution of HClO4. The electronically active surface area results are in good agreement with the order of the ORR kinetic activity of the supported Pd/polyIL(X)–CNTs (X: Cl>ClO4>BF4>Br≈PF6≫I). In contrast, owing to the facile anion exchange of halide anions with hydroxide anions, anion-dependent catalytic activity has not been observed in 0.1 M NaOH. Iterative ORR experiments in acid–base solutions demonstrated anion exchange on the electrode. These results indicate that subtly varied structures of the IL moiety profoundly influence the performance of IL–CNT hybrid materials and molecular-level control of interfacial interactions between the support material, catalysts, and electrolytes is important in the design of supported metal nanoparticle catalysts for fuel cells.
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