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Research Highlight | Center for Nanoscale Materials

Synergistic platinum-cobalt catalyst reaches new performance level for fuel cells

In a study published in Science, researchers describe a method of preparing highly active yet stable electrocatalysts containing ultralow Pt content using Co or Co/Zn zeolitic imidazolate frameworks.

Scientific Achievement

A synergistic, platinum-cobalt (Pt-Co) catalyst with high catalytic activity and durability at ultralow Pt loading was created for fuel cell applications; modeling confirmed Pt-Co interactions with the precious metal-free support play a significant role in the performance improvements.

Significance and Impact

The synergistic catalysts reached mass activities of 1.08-1.77 A mgPt-1 which exceed the 2025 U.S. DOE target of 0.44 A mgPt-1 for fuel cells.

Research Details

  • Design, synthesis and testing were performed in Argonne’s CSE Division; XAFS/XANES were performed at the APS.
  • Characterization at the CNM included aberration-corrected high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) with EDS and EELS; first-principles DFT modeling was performed on the CNM Carbon computing cluster.


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Work was performed in part at the Center for Nanoscale Materials and Advanced Photon Source. 

About Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials
The Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit https://​sci​ence​.osti​.gov/​U​s​e​r​-​F​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​/​U​s​e​r​-​F​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​-​a​t​-​a​-​G​lance.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology by conducting leading-edge basic and applied research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.