Combinatorial Density Functional Theory-Based Screening of Surface Alloys for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction

Jeffrey Philip Greeley, Jens Kehlet Nørskov

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A density functional theory (DFT)-based, combinatorial search for improved oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalysts is presented. A descriptor-based approach to estimate the ORR activity of binary surface alloys, wherein alloying occurs only in the surface layer, is described, and rigorous, potential-dependent computational tests of the stability of these alloys in aqueous, acidic environments are presented. These activity and stability criteria are applied to a database of DFT calculations on nearly 750 binary transition metal surface alloys; of these, many are predicted to be active for the ORR but, with few exceptions, they are found to be thermodynamically unstable in the acidic environments typical of low-temperature fuel cells. The results suggest that, absent other thermodynamic or kinetic mechanisms to stabilize the alloys, surface alloys are unlikely to serve as useful ORR catalysts over extended periods of operation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)4932-4939
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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