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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 14, 2024
  2. Commercial proton exchange membrane heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles will require a five-fold increase in durability compared to current state-of-the art light-duty fuel cell vehicles. We describe a new composite membrane that incorporates silicotungstic heteroply acid (HPA),α-K8SiW11O40▪13H2O, a radical decomposition catalyst and when acid-exchanged can potentially conduct protons. The HPA was covalently bound to a terpolymer of tetrafluoroethylene, vinylidene fluoride, and sulfonyl fluoride containing monomer (1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4-octafluoro-4-((1,2,2-trifluorovinyl)oxy)butane-1-sulfonyl fluoride) by dehydrofluorination followed by addition of diethyl (4-hydroxyphenyl) phosphonate, giving a perfluorosulfonic acid-vinylidene fluoride-heteropoly acid (PFSA-VDF-HPA). A composite membrane was fabricated using a blend of the PFSA-VDF-HPA and the 800EW 3M perfluoro sulfonic acid polymer. The bottom liner-side of the membrane tended to have a higher proportion of HPA moieties compared to the air-side as gravity caused the higher mass density PFSA-VDF-HPA to settle. The composite membrane was shown to have less swelling, more hydrophobic properties, and higher crystallinity than the pure PFSA membrane. The proton conductivity of the membrane was 0.130 ± 0.03 S cm−1at 80 °C and 95% RH. Impressively, when the membrane with HPA-rich side was facing the anode, the membrane survived more than 800 h under accelerated stress test conditions of open-circuit voltage, 90 °C and 30% RH.

  3. Understanding how to control the nucleation and growth rates is crucial for designing nanoparticles with specific sizes and shapes. In this study, we show that the nucleation and growth rates are correlated with the thermodynamics of metal–ligand/solvent binding for the pre-reduction complex and the surface of the nanoparticle, respectively. To obtain these correlations, we measured the nucleation and growth rates by in situ small angle X-ray scattering during the synthesis of colloidal Pd nanoparticles in the presence of trioctylphosphine in solvents of varying coordinating ability. The results show that the nucleation rate decreased, while the growth rate increased in the following order, toluene, piperidine, 3,4-lutidine and pyridine, leading to a large increase in the final nanoparticle size (from 1.4 nm in toluene to 5.0 nm in pyridine). Using density functional theory (DFT), complemented by 31 P nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray absorption spectroscopy, we calculated the reduction Gibbs free energies of the solvent-dependent dominant pre-reduction complex and the solvent-nanoparticle binding energy. The results indicate that lower nucleation rates originate from solvent coordination which stabilizes the pre-reduction complex and increases its reduction free energy. At the same time, DFT calculations suggest that the solvent coordination affects the effective capping of themore »surface where stronger binding solvents slow the nanoparticle growth by lowering the number of active sites (not already bound by trioctylphosphine). The findings represent a promising advancement towards understanding the microscopic connection between the metal–ligand thermodynamic interactions and the kinetics of nucleation and growth to control the size of colloidal metal nanoparticles.« less
  4. Abstract

    Nanostructured materials with high surface area and low coordinated atoms present distinct intrinsic properties from their bulk counterparts. However, nanomaterials’ nucleation/growth mechanism during the synthesis process and the changes of the nanomaterials in the working state are still not thoroughly studied. As two indispensable methods, X‐ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) provides nanomaterials’ electronic structure and coordination environment, while small‐angle X‐ray scattering (SAXS) offers structural properties and morphology information. A combination of in situ/operando XAS and SAXS provides high temporal and spatial resolution to monitor the evolution of nanomaterials. This review gives a brief introduction to in situ/operando SAXS/XAS cells. In addition, the application of in situ/operando XAS and SAXS in preparing nanomaterials and studying changes of working nanomaterials are summarized.

  5. Controlling the size distribution of nanoparticles is important for many applications and typically involves the use of ligands during synthesis. In this study, we show that the mechanism of size focusing involves a dependence of the growth rate on the size of the nanoparticles and the ligand coverage on the surface of the nanoparticles. To demonstrate these effects, we used in situ small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and population balance kinetic modeling (PBM) to investigate the evolution of size distribution during the synthesis of colloidal Pd metal nanoparticles. Despite temporal overlap of nucleation and growth, our in situ SAXS show size focusing of the distribution under different synthetic conditions (different concentrations of metal and ligand as well as solvent type). To understand the mechanism of size focusing using PBM, we systematically studied how the evolution of the nanoparticle size distribution is affected by nucleation rate, and dependence of the growth rate constant on ligand surface coverage, and size of the nanoparticles. We show that continuous nucleation contributes to size defocusing. However, continuous nucleation results in different reaction times for the nanoparticle population leading to time and size-dependent ligand surface coverage. Using density functional theory (DFT) calculations and Brønsted–Evans–Polanyi relations, wemore »show that as the population grows, larger nanoparticles grow more slowly than smaller ones due to lower intrinsic activity and higher ligand coverage on the surface. Therefore, despite continuous nucleation, the faster growth of smaller nanoparticles in the population leads to size focusing. The size focusing behaviour (due to faster growth of smaller nanoparticles) was found to be model independent and similar results were demonstrated under different nucleation and growth pathways ( e.g. growth via ion reduction on the surface and/or monomer addition). Our results provide a microscopic connection between kinetics and thermodynamics of nanoparticle growth and metal–ligand binding, and their effect on the size distribution of colloidal nanoparticles.« less
  6. Abstract

    Single‐atom and subnanocluster catalysts (SSCs) represent a highly promising class of low‐cost materials with high catalytic activity and high atom‐utilization efficiency. However, SSCs are susceptible to undergo restructuring during the reactions. Exploring the active sites of catalysts through in situ characterization techniques plays a critical role in studying reaction mechanism and guiding the design of optimum catalysts. In situ X‐ray absorption spectroscopy/small‐angle X‐ray scattering (XAS/SAXS) is promising and widely used for monitoring electronic structure, atomic configuration, and size changes of SSCs during real‐time working conditions. Unfortunately, there is no detailed summary of XAS/SAXS characterization results of SSCs. The recent advances in applying in situ XAS/SAXS to SSCs are thoroughly summarized in this review, including the atomic structure and oxidation state variations under open circuit and realistic reaction conditions. Furthermore, the reversible transformation of single‐atom catalysts (SACs) to subnanoclusters/nanoparticles and the application of in situ XAS/SAXS in subnanoclusters are discussed. Finally, the outlooks in modulating the SSCs and developing operando XAS/SAXS for SSCs are highlighted.