Effect of surface composition on electronic structure, stability, and electrocatalytic properties of Pt-transition metal alloys: Pt-skin versus Pt-skeleton surfaces

J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Jul 12;128(27):8813-9. doi: 10.1021/ja0600476.


The surface properties of PtM (M = Co, Ni, Fe) polycrystalline alloys are studied by utilizing Auger electron spectroscopy, low energy ion scattering spectroscopy, and ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy. For each alloy initial surface characterization was done in an ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) system, and depending on preparation procedure it was possible to form surfaces with two different compositions. Due to surface segregation thermodynamics, annealed alloy surfaces form the outermost Pt-skin surface layer, which consists only platinum atoms, while the sputtered surfaces have the bulk ratio of alloying components. The measured valence band density of state spectra clearly shows the differences in electronic structures between Pt-skin and sputtered surfaces. Well-defined surfaces were hereafter transferred out from UHV and exposed to the acidic (electro)chemical environment. The electrochemical and post-electrochemical UHV surface characterizations revealed that Pt-skin surfaces are stable during and after immersion to an electrolyte. In contrast all sputtered surfaces formed Pt-skeleton outermost layers due to dissolution of transition metal atoms. Therefore, these three different near-surface compositions (Pt-skin, Pt-skeleton, and pure polycrystalline Pt) all having pure-Pt outermost layers are found to have different electronic structures, which originates from different arrangements of subsurface atoms of the alloying component. Modification in Pt electronic properties alters adsorption/catalytic properties of the corresponding bimetallic alloy. The most active systems for the electrochemical oxygen reduction reaction are established to be the Pt-skin near-surface composition, which also have the most shifted metallic d-band center position versus Fermi level.