Tokyo Tech News

Tantalum oxide nanoparticles based Pt nanoparticles as efficient catalysts for polymer electrolyte fuel cells


Published: May 13, 2014

One of the challenges for the commercialization of polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) is the development of new cathode catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) that exhibit superior activity and durability than conventional platinum (Pt) catalysts (Pt/C).

Here, Zaenal Awaludin, Takeo Ohsaka, and colleagues at Department of Electronic Chemistry report the development of TaOx (tantalum oxide) nanoparticles-capped Pt nanoparticles (Pt/TaOx) that possess a higher activity and durability than a Pt catalyst alone.

The Pt/TaOx catalyst has a unique structure comprising of a TaOx-capped Pt nanoparticles. The Pt/TaOx structures were prepared by electrodeposition of TaOx nanoparticles followed by Pt nanoparticles on glassy carbon (GC) electrodes.

The electrochemically active surface area (ECAS) of the TaOx-capped Pt nanoparticles catalyst is about one-fourth of that of the Pt/C , but its ORR activity is almost comparable to that of the Pt/C and its durability is about 8 times higher compared with the Pt/C.

The unique assembly of the TaOx-capped Pt nanoparticles catalyst in which the Pt nanoparticles are dimensionally stabilized by the porous TaOx framework could prevent the Pt nanoparticles from aggregation and dissolution. The enhanced ORR activity is ascribed to factors that include a favorable adsorption of O2 molecules for 4e-ORR as a result of a spillover effect which may alleviate the poisoning effect of OHad species on the Pt surface; lowering the local pH in the vicinity of Pt nanoparticles; and electronic interaction between Pt nanoparticles and TaOx.

The TaOx-capped Pt nanoparticles have a dimensionally stable structure and expected to be a promising electrocatalyst for ORR in PEFCs.

  • Cross sectional images of SEM (a, b) and BSEM (c) of Pt/TaO<sub>x</sub> catalyst on GC electrode

    Cross sectional images of SEM (a, b) and BSEM (c) of Pt/TaOx catalyst on GC electrode

  • Schematic illustrations of (a) TaO<sub>x</sub>-capped Pt nanoparticle within a TaO<sub>x</sub> framework, (b) bonding formation of Ta with GC and Pt, and (c) O<sub>2</sub> adsorption on Pt-TaO<sub>x</sub> surfaceTaO<sub>x</sub>

    Schematic illustrations of (a) TaOx-capped Pt nanoparticle within a TaOx framework, (b) bonding formation of Ta with GC and Pt, and (c) O2 adsorption on Pt-TaOx surface


  • Authors:
    Zaenal Awaludin, James Guo Sheng Moo, Takeyoshi Okajima and Takeo Ohsaka
  • Title of original paper:
    TaOx-capped Pt nanoparticles as active and durable electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction
  • Journal:
    Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 1, 14754-14765 (2013)
  • DOI:

For further information

Professor Takeo Ohsaka

Department of Electronic Chemistry

Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering

Tel: 045-924-5404


Updated May 21: Added “Pt” in the title and rephrased “nanoparticles-capped Pt nanoparticles” and “TaOx-capped Pt nanoparticles” in the second and third paragraph