Carbon nanotubes have a large surface, excellent chemical stability and ability to improve the rate of electron transfer in numerous redox reactions. They are particularly useful in the preparation of electrocatalysts.
Team Jinhua Chen of Hunan University has improved the surface of a carbon nanotube with a polymer ionic liquid. The polymer has a high density of binding sites for metal nanoparticles, such as platinum or ruthenium, while causing less structural damage than conventional methods using a pretreatment by acid oxidation. The new support an electrostatic charge remains constant, which prevents the aggregation of nanotubes in aqueous solutions.
Nanoparticles of platinum and ruthenium / platinum are small and widely dispersed through this process. The resulting hybrid system has a large area and good electrocatalytic activity for methanol oxidation, promising characteristics for the manufacture of catalysts for fuel cells.