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A low-cost route to ultrathin Pt films

By Gerald Ondrey |

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, Md.; www.nist.gov) have developed a relatively simple, fast and effective method of depositing uniform, ultrathin layers of platinum atoms onto a surface. The technique may lead to a reduction in the amount of precious metal needed for catalyst applications, such as catalytic converters in automobiles and hydrogen fuel cells. Electroplating of Pt on gold was used as the model study. Normally, electro-deposition leads to a patchy and rough surface because the Pt atoms tend to first attach to any defects on the Au surface, and then the Pt deposit build up on the Pt layer. Gokcen/NIST The NIST team found that increasing the voltage — the driving force of the reaction — to much higher levels than required, water molecules start to break down and forms hydrogen ions. The hydrogen quickly forms a layer covering the freshly deposited Pt, thereby preventing further deposition of Pt. Furthermore, the team discovered that by pulsing the applied voltage, it is possible to selectively remove the hydrogen layer. This enables the electroplating process to be repeated to form multiple layers. The electroplating process occurs in a single plating…
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