Actively respiring biofilms of Geobacter sulfurreducens were used as a biotemplate to form a palladium mesoporous layer directly on an electrode surface. Cells and proteins within the biofilm acted as the reductant and stabilizer to facilitate the reduction, dispersion, and attachment of palladium nanoparticles to the electrode surface without using synthetic chemicals.
Mesoporous structures can increase catalytic activity by maximizing the ratio of surface area to volume, but current synthesis techniques utilize expensive polymers and toxic chemicals. A Geobacter sulfurreducens biofilm was used as a sustainable template to form mesoporous Pd structures while eliminating the need for synthetic chemicals. The bulk of the biofilm material was removed by thermal treatments after nanoparticle formation, producing a catalytic Pd mesoporous (pore size 9.7±0.1nm) structure attached to the graphite electrode with a 1.5-2μm thick backbone composed of nanoparticles (~200nm). A control electrode electrochemically plated with Pd in the absence of a biofilm exhibited a variable planar Pd base (~0.5-3μm thick) with sporadic Pd extrusions (~2μm across, 1-5μm tall) from the surface. The biotemplated mesoporous structure produced 15-20% higher stable current densities during H2 oxidation tests than the electrochemically plated control electrode, even though 30% less Pd was present in the biotemplated catalyst. These results indicate that electroactive biofilms can be used as a sustainable base material to produce nanoporous structures without the need for synthetic polymers. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2014;111: 2349-2354.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology