Insights into the Dynamic Interfacial and Bulk Composition of Copper-Modified, Hydrogen-Alloyed, Palladium Nanocubes under Electrocatalytic Conditions

Lucy Metzroth, Elisa Miller, Gregory Pach, Andrew Norman, Gerard Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


Understanding and controlling the alloying properties of nanomaterials under electrochemical conditions are critically important for fields ranging from energy storage and catalysis to electrochromic window technology. Hydrogen-absorbing nanomaterials, like palladium, are especially interesting due to their ability to reversibly absorb and store hydrogen in their lattice at near-stoichiometric amounts. Palladium's work function is also significantly deeper than that of most transition metals, which enables electrochemical underpotential deposition of conformal monolayer and submonolayer amounts of transition metals onto the palladium surface. The simultaneous existence of these two properties is unique and opens new and exciting avenues for electrochemical applications. However, the intersection of surface-modified, hydrogen-alloyed palladium nanomaterials is poorly understood, and specifically, how these structures evolve during electrochemical operating conditions remains an open question. Here, we synthesize {100}-terminated palladium nanocubes and deposit between 0.5 and 22 monolayers of copper at the palladium surface. We then electrochemically alloy these surface-modified structures with hydrogen. Using a combination of analytical electrochemistry, spectroscopy, and microscopy, we track the positional evolution of the Cu at the surface of Pd, its impact on palladium's ability to absorb hydrogen, and copper's effect on hydrogen evolution electrocatalysis. We show that Cu readily alloys into the palladium nanocube at potentials more negative than the Cu2+/0 deposition, but a 0.5 monolayer thick copper layer remains at the Pd surface regardless of potential. Finally, we discuss the implications of these findings within the framework of CO2 reduction catalysis for carbon-carbon bond-forming chemistry.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)15487-15495
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number28
StatePublished - 22 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-79406


  • copper
  • electrocatalysis
  • nanomaterials
  • palladium


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