The present invention includes hybrid nanocomposite catalysts having tantalum oxide nanoparticles covalently bound to a functionalized carbon support and methods of making the same. The methods include functionalizing the carbon support surfaces, dispersing the functionalized carbon support in an organic liquid, and adding a ta-containing metalorganic precursor. The metalorganic precursor has an alkoxide group that reacts with the functional groups on the carbon support surface. The organic liquid is removed and the resultant material has properties that make it a suitable catalyst, especially in polymer-electrolyte-membrane fuel cell applications.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 This invention was made with Government support under Contract DE-AC0576RL01830 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.