Understanding the Metal Carbonyl-Assisted Synthesis of PtMoCu/C Nanocatalysts for Proton-Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

Bobae Ju, Hee Jo Song, Hyunseok Yoon, Do Kyung Kim, Hye Won Jin, Taeho Lim, Dong Wan Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pt-based alloy nanoparticles (NPs) are being developed as oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) electrocatalysts in proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) by improving the electrocatalytic activity and stability of Pt and reducing its utilization. Metal carbonyls are an effective source for synthesizing Pt alloy NPs. However, the role of metal carbonyls and their effect on the synthesis of Pt alloy NPs are unclear. Herein, we report the formation mechanism of PtMoCu NPs by controlling the Mo(CO)6 source and analyzing the reaction intermediates. We determined that sufficient Pt-organic complexes should be created in order that the rapidly released Mo and carbonyl from Mo(CO)6 enable the formation of ultrafine monodispersed PtMoCu NPs. Specifically, PtMoCu/C with a low Pt content exhibits mass (241.0 A gPt-1) and specific activities (0.74 mA cmPt-2) for ORRs that are 1.5 and 1.6 times, respectively, higher than those of PtMoCu-SCR/C (synthesized through a slow carbonyl release process). More significantly, 81% of the mass activity of PtMoCu/C was retained after 10,000 cycles of accelerated durability test, which is much higher than that of PtMoCu-SCR/C (38%) and benchmark Pt/C (44%). Additionally, a practical PEMFC, fabricated with a membrane electrode assembly with PtMoCu/C, shows a high power density (1.3 W cm-2).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16108-16116
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Nov 13

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Chemical Society


  • electrocatalyst
  • metal carbonyl
  • oxygen reduction reaction
  • proton-exchange membrane fuel cell
  • Pt alloy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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