Atomically Dispersed Cu–N–C as a Promising Support for Low-Pt Loading Cathode Catalysts of Fuel Cells

It is of great significance to reduce the amount of platinum for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. In this work, a copper single atom coordinated by nitrogen doped carbon nanotubes is employed as a support for the deposition of platinum nanoparticles (Pt/Cu-SAC), according to the prediction of the density functional theory calculation, which reveals the ORR activity of Pt/Cu-SAC should be improved in comparison to that of Pt/C due to the weaker adsorption of oxygen. The prepared Pt/Cu-SAC exhibits more promising ORR activity than the commercial Pt/C due to the synergetic effect of Cu-SAC on the Pt particles. Furthermore, the fuel cell based on Pt/Cu-SAC with a cathode Pt loading of 0.025 mg cm–2 exhibits a peak power density of 526 mW cm–2, which is quite similar to that obtained with the commercial Pt/C with a cathode Pt loading of 0.1 mg cm–2. The Pt/Cu-SAC paves the way to design low-Pt cathode catalysts for the polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells.