CO surface diffusion on platinum fuel cell catalysts by electrochemical NMR

P. K. Babu, J. H. Chung, E. Oldfield, A. Wieckowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report on surface CO diffusion processes in relation to properties of nanoparticle Pt and Pt/Ru fuel cell catalysts. The COad diffusion was studied by the use of 13C electrochemical nuclear magnetic resonance (EC-NMR) spectroscopy. Measurements were carried out in the temperature range 253-293 K, where the solution side of the nanoparticle-electrolyte interface is liquid, in contrast to previous measurements, in ice. We offer a concerted view of the effect of particle size and surface coverage on COad diffusion, and find that both are important. We also found that the diffusion parameters were influenced by the variations in the distribution of chemisorption energies on particles of different sizes, and by the CO-CO lateral interactions. On all Pt nanoparticle surfaces investigated, we conclude that CO surface diffusion is too fast to be considered as the rate-limiting factor in methanol reactivity. The addition of Ru to Pt increases the surface diffusion rates of CO, and there is a direct correlation between the Fermi level local density of states (Ef-LDOS) of the 2π* molecular orbital of adsorbed CO and the activation energy for surface diffusion. These results are of interest since they improve our knowledge of surface dynamics of molecules at electrochemical interfaces, and may help to formulate better models for the electrooxidation of adsorbed CO on nanoparticle surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6672-6679
Number of pages8
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Issue number23
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008


  • Adsorbed CO
  • CO coverage
  • NMR
  • Particle size effect
  • Pt nanoparticles
  • Pt/Ru nanoparticles
  • Surface diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Electrochemistry


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