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Keywords:

  • copper;
  • electrochemistry;
  • nanoparticles;
  • palladium;
  • supported catalysts

Abstract

Monodisperse bimetallic Pd–Cu nanoparticles with controllable size and composition were synthesized by a one-step multiphase ethylene glycol (EG) method. Adjusting the stoichiometric ratio of the Pd and Cu precursors afforded nanoparticles with different compositions, such as Pd85–Cu15, Pd56–Cu44, and Pd39–Cu61. The nanoparticles were separated from the solution mixture by extraction with non-polar solvents, such as n-hexane. Monodisperse bimetallic Pd–Cu nanoparticles with narrow size-distribution were obtained without the need for a size-selection process. Capping ligands that were bound to the surface of the particles were removed through heat treatment when the as-prepared nanoparticles were loaded onto a Vulcan XC-72 carbon support. Supported bimetallic Pd–Cu nanoparticles showed enhanced electrocatalytic activity towards methanol oxidation compared with supported Pd nanoparticles that were fabricated according to the same EG method. For a bimetallic Pd–Cu catalyst that contained 15 % Cu, the activity was even comparable to the state-of-the-art commercially available Pt/C catalysts. A STEM-HAADF study indicated that the formation of random solid-solution alloy structures in the bimetallic Pd85–Cu15/C catalysts played a key role in improving the electrochemical activity.