Aligned Carbon Nanotube Array Functionalization for Enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition of Platinum Electrocatalysts

Arrelaine A. Dameron, Svitlana Pylypenko, Justin B. Bult, K. C. Neyerlin, Chaiwat Engtrakul, Christopher Bochert, G. Jeremy Leong, Sarah L. Frisco, Lin Simpson, Huyen N. Dinh, Bryan Pivovar

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54 Scopus Citations


Uniform metal deposition onto high surface area supports is a key challenge of developing successful efficient catalyst materials. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) circumvents permeation difficulties, but relies on gas-surface reactions to initiate growth. Our work demonstrates that modified surfaces within vertically aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) arrays, from plasma and molecular precursor treatments, can lead to improved catalyst deposition. Gas phase functionalization influences the number of ALD nucleation sites and the onset of ALD growth and, in turn, affects the uniformity of the coating along the length of the CNTs within the aligned arrays. The induced chemical changes for each functionalization route are identified by X-ray photoelectron and Raman spectroscopies. The most effective functionalization routes increase the prevalence of oxygen moieties at defect sites on the carbon surfaces. The striking effects of the functionalization are demonstrated with ALD Pt growth as a function of surface treatment and ALD cycles examined by electron microscopy of the arrays and the individual CNTs. Finally, we demonstrate applicability of these materials as fuel cell electrocatalysts and show that surface functionalization affects their performance towards oxygen reduction reaction.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5212-5221
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Surface Science
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2012

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5200-54189


  • atomic layer desposition (ALD)
  • carbon nanotube
  • catalyst
  • fuel cell
  • plasma
  • platinum


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