Size-specific chemical properties of metal nanoclusters (NCs) have motivated their applications in catalysis, whose properties were found to be dramatically different from bulk materials. We have reported herein the size-dependent activity of platinum (Pt) NCs for the electrochemical hydrogen-evolution-reaction (HER) in neutral water. The single-size NC catalysts were prepared by the soft-landing of mass-selected Pt NCs on a strontium titanate (SrTiO3) (100) surface using an intensive, size-selective NC source based on high-power impulse magnetron sputtering. Successful fabrications of single-size Pt NC catalysts were confirmed with scanning tunneling microscopy. It was found from electrochemical measurements that catalytic HER activity per unit Pt shows a maximum at Pt30 in the range of n = 1–45. Taking into account the electron affinities of Pt NCs measured by gas-phase anion photoelectron spectroscopy, the reaction mechanism of HER is deduced: the size-specific HER activity originates from the matching of energy levels of Pt NCs with the band structure of SrTiO3 surfaces.
- Hydrogen evolution reaction (HER)
- Magnetron sputtering
- Nanocluster catalyst
- Size-selected nanocluster
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