Underpotential Co-deposition of Au–Cu Alloys: Switching the Underpotentially Deposited Element by Selective Complexation

2014-03-11T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Defu Liang Giovanni Zangari
Underpotential deposition and monolayer replacement processes are widely used for the synthesis of core/shell catalysts and heterointerfaces. Conventionally, only the more noble metal can be underpotentially deposited on or replace the less noble metal, limiting the number of accessible material configurations. We show here that the reverse process is possible, using the Au–Cu pair as a model system. By tuning the redox potentials of the two components via use of strong, selective metal ion complexes, Au–Cu alloys could be synthesized at will by (i) conventional underpotential co-deposition, whereby Cu is reduced at underpotential in parallel with the overpotential deposition of Au, or (ii) the reverse process, where Au is reduced at underpotential, while Cu is deposited at overpotential. Selective complexation also draws the redox potential of Au and Cu closer, resulting in co-deposition under activation control for the noble metal and precise alloy composition control by the applied potential, enabling in principle the formation of arbitrary metal or alloy interfaces. The alloys resulting from the two processes exhibit distinct enthalpy of mixing, suggesting different degrees of short-range order and dissimilar atomic configurations. These findings open new perspectives on underpotential deposition phenomena and possibly new synthetic opportunities in electrodeposition.