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Hollow Nanoparticles as Active and Durable Catalysts

Brookhaven National Laboratory

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	Performance characteristics of the hollow nanoparticle catalysts for the oxygen-reduction reaction</p>

Performance characteristics of the hollow nanoparticle catalysts for the oxygen-reduction reaction

Technology Marketing Summary

Platinum is an excellent catalyst for many reactions. However, it is also very expensive. The catalytic activity per gram of platinum can be increased by using a hollow nanoparticle consisting of an atomically thin shell of the metal surrounding a hollow core. When used as an electrocatalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction, this structure exhibits much higher platinum mass catalytic activity than solid nanoparticle electrocatalysts. These structures can be used in fuel cells and other electrocatalytic or heterogeneous catalytic applications.


Nickel nanoparticles are formed either by pulse deposition or bulk chemical processes, and then they are coated with a uniform thickness of Pt. The Ni is then dissolved, leaving a hollow sphere of Pt. This Pt layer undergoes 1–2% compression, forming a tight, single-piece layer surrounding a void. Typical spheres are 3–8 nm in diameter with Pt layer thicknesses of 2–3 nm. Similar processes lead to palladium, gold, and/or palladium-gold shells. The latter exhibit excellent catalytic activity, while the Pt shells are extremely durable and show higher activities than other forms of Pt catalysts.


The hollow nanoparticle catalysts offer lasting high catalytic activity at lower cost than bulk platinum/carbon catalysts.


Applications and Industries

Fuel cell catalysts; replacement for platinum/carbon catalysts and electrocatalysts; heterogeneous catalysis.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Application 20130177838
Hollow metal nanoparticles and methods for their manufacture are disclosed. In one embodiment the metal nanoparticles have a continuous and nonporous shell with a hollow core which induces surface smoothening and lattice contraction of the shell. In a particular embodiment, the hollow nanoparticles have an external diameter of less than 20 nm, a wall thickness of between 1 nm and 3 nm or, alternatively, a wall thickness of between 4 and 12 atomic layers. In another embodiment, the hollow nanoparticles are fabricated by a process in which a sacrificial core is coated with an ultrathin shell layer that encapsulates the entire core. Removal of the core produces contraction of the shell about the hollow interior. In a particular embodiment the shell is formed by galvanic displacement of core surface atoms while remaining core removal is accomplished by dissolution in acid solution or in an electrolyte during potential cycling between upper and lower applied potentials.
Brookhaven National Laboratory 07/13/2011
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
BSA 10-19PrototypeAvailable04/08/201104/08/2011

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To: Poornima Upadhya<>