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Towards Nanostructured Electrocatalysts with Superior Stability

Project description

Resolving the structure-stability relationship of electrocatalysts at the atomic scale

Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies could empower the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy system. Water electrolysis is an eco-friendly method of producing hydrogen. The efficiency and competitiveness of this process relies on the use of highly stable electrocatalysts. Weak electrocatalyst stability together with their low abundance and uneven geographic distribution acts as an obstacle to a more sustainable method of storing and generating electricity. The EU-funded 123STABLE project aims to further insight into the relationship between the structure and stability of catalysts involved in electrochemical reactions. High-sensitivity approaches down to the picogram level combined with sub-atomic scale microscopy promise atomic-level insights into the corrosion and reconstruction of noble metals in electrochemical environments.


In the last decades, significant progress has been made on understanding and controlling solid/liquid electrochemical interfaces at atomic levels. As the principles guiding the activity of electrochemical reactions are quite well established (structure-activity relationships), the fundamentals of stability are still poorly understood (structure-stability relationships). 123STABLE proposes to employ (1) identical location, (2) online monitoring and (3) modeling of noble metals based nanoparticles changes with the state-of-the-art electron microscopy equipment and online dissolution and evolution analytics using electrochemical flow cell coupled to online mass spectrometers. Projects unique methodology approach with picogram sensitivity levels, in combination with sub-atomic scale microscopy insights and simulations, promises novel atomistic insights into the corrosion and reconstruction of noble metals in electrochemical environments. This unique approach is based on observations of the same nanoparticles before and after electrochemical treatment where weak and stable atomic features and events can be recognized, followed, understood and finally utilized. Upon (1) doping, (2) decoration and/or (3) other synthetic modification of nanoparticles like a change in size and shape further stabilization is envisioned. For instance, blockage of nanoparticle vulnerable defected sites like steps or kinks by more noble metal could stop or significantly slow down their degradation.
The 123STABLE project will feature platinum- and iridium-based nanostructures as a model system to introduce a unique “123” approach, as they still possess the best electrocatalytic properties for the future electrification of society through the Hydrogen economy. However, their electrochemical stability is still not sufficient. Coupled with the fact that their supply is hindered by extremely scarce, rare and uneven geological distribution, the increase in their stability is of immense importance.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 364 750,00
1000 Ljubljana

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Slovenija Zahodna Slovenija Osrednjeslovenska
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 364 750,00

Beneficiaries (2)