Carbon-supported Pt@Au “core-shell” nanoparticles with varying surface concentration of platinum atoms have been synthesized using a novel redox-mediated synthesis approach. The synthesis technique allows for a selective deposition of platinum atoms on the surface of prefabricated gold nanoparticles. Energy dispersive spectroscopic analyses in a scanning electron microscope reveal that the platinum to gold atomic ratios are close to the nominal values, validating the synthesis scheme. X-ray diffraction data indicate an un-alloyed structure. The platinum to gold surface atomic ratio determined from cyclic voltammetry and copper under-potential deposition experiments reveal good agreement with the calculated values at low platinum concentration. However, there is an increase in non-uniformity in the deposition process upon increasing the platinum concentration. Koutecky–Levich analysis of the samples indicates a transition of the total number of electrons transferred (n) in the electrochemical oxygen reduction reaction from two to four electrons upon increasing the surface concentration of platinum atoms. Furthermore, the data indicate that isolated platinum atoms can reduce molecular oxygen but via a two-electron route. Moreover, successful four-electron reduction of molecular oxygen requires clusters of platinum atoms.
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