skip to main content

Title: Bio-inspired routes for synthesizing efficient nanoscale platinum electrocatalysts

The overall objective of the proposed research is to use fundamental advances in bionanotechnology to design powerful platinum nanocrystal electrocatalysts for fuel cell applications. The new economically-viable, environmentally-friendly, bottom-up biochemical synthetic strategy will produce platinum nanocrystals with tailored size, shape and crystal orientation, hence leading to a maximum electrochemical reactivity. There are five specific aims to the proposed bio-inspired strategy for synthesizing efficient electrocatalytic platinum nanocrystals: (1) isolate peptides that both selectively bind particular crystal faces of platinum and promote the nucleation and growth of particular nanocrystal morphologies, (2) pattern nanoscale 2-dimensional arrays of platinum nucleating peptides from DNA scaffolds, (3) investigate the combined use of substrate patterned peptides and soluble peptides on nanocrystal morphology and growth (4) synthesize platinum crystals on planar and large-area carbon electrode supports, and (5) perform detailed characterization of the electrocatalytic behavior as a function of catalyst size, shape and morphology. Project Description and Impact: This bio-inspired collaborative research effort will address key challenges in designing powerful electrocatalysts for fuel cell applications by employing nucleic acid scaffolds in combination with peptides to perform specific, environmentally-friendly, simultaneous bottom-up biochemical synthesis and patterned assembly of highly uniform and efficient platinum nanocrystal catalysts. Bulk synthesis of nanoparticles usuallymore » produces a range of sizes, accessible catalytic sites, crystal morphologies, and orientations, all of which lead to inconsistent catalytic activities. In contrast, biological systems routinely demonstrate exquisite control over inorganic syntheses at neutral pH and ambient temperature and pressures. Because the orientation and arrangement of the templating biomolecules can be precisely controlled, the nanocrystals boast a defined shape, morphology, orientation and size and are synthesized at benign reaction conditions. Adapting the methods of biomineralization towards the synthesis of platinum nanocrystals will allow effective control at a molecular level of the synthesis of highly active metal electrocatalysts, with readily tailored properties, through tuning of the biochemical inputs. The proposed research will incorporate many facets of biomineralization by: (1) isolating peptides that selectively bind particular crystal faces of platinum (2) isolating peptides that promote the nucleation and growth of particular nanocrystal morphologies (3) using two-dimensional DNA scaffolds to control the spatial orientation and density of the platinum nucleating peptides, and (4) combining bio-templating and soluble peptides to control crystal nucleation, orientation, and morphology. The resulting platinum nanocrystals will be evaluated for their electrocatalytic behavior (on common carbon supports) to determine their optimal size, morphology and crystal structure. We expect that such rational biochemical design will lead to highly uniform and efficient platinum nanocrystal catalysts for fuel cell applications.« less
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. of California, San Diego, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of California, San Diego, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 77 NANOSCIENCE AND NANOTECHNOLOGY Catalysis; Bio-Inspired; Synthesis; Nanoparticles; Oxygen Reduction; Nanomotor