Electrochemically induced nanocluster migration

Katrin Hartl, Markus Nesselberger, Karl J.J. Mayrhofer, Sebastian Kunz, Florian F. Schweinberger, Gihan Kwon, Marianne Hanzlik, Ueli Heiz, Matthias Arenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


In the presented study the influence of electrochemical treatments on size-selected Pt nanoclusters (NCs) supported on amorphous carbon is investigated by means of transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Well-defined Pt NCs are prepared by an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) laser vaporization source and deposited with low kinetic energy (≤10 eV/cluster) onto TEM gold grids covered by a thin (2 nm) carbon film. After transfer out of UHV Pt NCs are verified to be uniform in size and randomly distributed on the support. Subsequently, the TEM grids are employed as working electrodes in a standard electrochemical three electrode setup and the Pt nanoclusters are subjected to different electrochemical treatments. It is found that the NC arrangement is not influenced by potential hold conditions (at 0.40 V vs. RHE) or by potential cycling in a limited potential window (Vmax = 0.55 V vs. RHE). Upon potential cycling to 1.05 V vs. RHE, however, the NCs migrate on the carbon support. Interestingly, migration in oxygen or argon saturated electrolyte leads to NC coalescence, a mechanism discussed for being responsible for performance degradation of low temperature fuel cells, whereas in carbon monoxide saturated electrolyte the Pt NC agglomerate, but remain separated from each other and thus form distinctive structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-816
Number of pages7
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Degradation mechanism
  • Electrocatalysis
  • Nanocluster migration
  • PEM fuel cells
  • Platinum


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