The new nanocrystals -- with catalytic activity per unit area as much as four times higher than existing commercial platinum catalysts -- employ a "tetrahexahedral" structure not previously reported in the metal.
Professor Zhong Lin Want of the Georgia Institute of Technology and lead author of the study said the new platinum nanocrystals could improve the efficiency of chemical processes such as those used to catalyze fuel oxidation.
"If we are going to have a hydrogen economy, we will need better catalysts," Wang said. "This new shape for platinum catalyst nanoparticles greatly improves their activity."
The new nanocrystals, produced electrochemically from platinum nanospheres on a carbon substrate, remain stable at high temperatures, the researchers reported. Their sizes can be controlled by varying the number of cycles of "square wave" electrical potential applied to them.
The research team also included Professor Shi-Gang Sun, Na Tian and Zhi-You Zhou from Xiamen University in China and Yong Ding from the Georgia Tech.
The study is reported in the May 4 issue of the journal Science.
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