NChem Research Highlights: Nanotube electrocatalysts, pentagonal prisms and corroding platinum

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Carbon nanotubes can do anything, it seems. And now vertical arrays of nitrogen-doped CNTs have been found to be effective oxygen reduction electrodes, for use in fuel cells. Another cheaper alternative to platinum, which is the usual material used.

According to valence shell electron pair repulsion rules (VSEPR – remember learning those in long-ago undergrad days?), what structure would you expect a compound with 10 Ge atoms around 1 Co? Distribute all those bonds equally and you’d get a bicapped square antiprism. But instead you get a nearly geometrically perfect pentagonal prism — even the Ge–Ge distances BETWEEN the pentagonal faces are nearly the same as those WITHIN the faces.

Platinum and corrosion are two words I don’t normally associate with each other — especially because during my PhD we had a (terrifyingly expensive) Pt crucible that could withstand anything, at any temperature. But it looks like chlorine can do it, and exposing certain Pt surfaces to chlorine gas results in PtCl4 clusters forming as part of a highly ordered Cl-PtCl4 layer.

And finally…watch this space for more from Stu later today!


Neil Withers (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)