Investigating particle size effects in catalysis by applying a size controlled and surfactant-free synthesis of colloidal nanoparticles in alkaline ethylene glycol - The case study of the oxygen reduction reaction on Pt

Jonathan Quinson*, Masanori Inaba, Sarah Neumann, Andreas A. Swane, J. Bucher, Søren B. Simonsen, Luise Theil Kuhn, Jacob Judas Kain Kirkensgaard, Kirsten M.O. Jensen, Mehtap Oezaslan, Sebastian Kunz, Matthias Arenz

*Corresponding author for this work

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Colloidal platinum nanoparticles are obtained via a surfactant-free polyol process in alkaline ethylene glycol. In this popular synthesis, ethylene glycol functions as solvent and reducing agent. The preparation procedure is known for its reproducibility to obtain 1-2 nm nanoparticles, but at the same time the controlled preparation of larger nanoparticles is challenging. A reliable size control without the use of surfactants is a fundamental yet missing achievement for systematic investigations. In this work it is demonstrated how the molar ratio between NaOH and the platinum precursor determines the final particle size and how this knowledge can be used to prepare and study in a systematic way supported catalysts with defined size and metal loading. Using small-angle X-ray scattering, transmission electron microscopy, infra-red spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, pair distribution function and electrochemical analysis it is shown that changing the NaOH/Pt molar ratio from 25 to 3, the Pt nanoparticle size is tuned from 1 to 5 nm. This size range is of interest for various catalytic applications, such as the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Supporting the nanoparticles onto a high surface area carbon, we demonstrate how the particle size effect can be studied keeping the catalyst loading constant, an important aspect that in previous studies could not be accomplished.
Original languageEnglish
JournalA C S Catalysis
Pages (from-to)6627-6635
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Oxygen reduction reaction
  • Particle size effect
  • Size control
  • Polyol process
  • Platinum nanoparticles
  • Synthesis

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