Specific ion effects directed noble metal aerogels: Versatile manipulation for electrocatalysis and beyond

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Science Advances  24 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaaw4590
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw4590


Noble metal foams (NMFs) are a new class of functional materials featuring properties of both noble metals and monolithic porous materials, providing impressive prospects in diverse fields. Among reported synthetic methods, the sol-gel approach manifests overwhelming advantages for versatile synthesis of nanostructured NMFs (i.e., noble metal aerogels) under mild conditions. However, limited gelation methods and elusive formation mechanisms retard structure/composition manipulation, hampering on-demand design for practical applications. Here, highly tunable NMFs are fabricated by activating specific ion effects, enabling various single/alloy aerogels with adjustable composition (Au, Ag, Pd, and Pt), ligament sizes (3.1 to 142.0 nm), and special morphologies. Their superior performance in programmable self-propulsion devices and electrocatalytic alcohol oxidation is also demonstrated. This study provides a conceptually new approach to fabricate and manipulate NMFs and an overall framework for understanding the gelation mechanism, paving the way for on-target design of NMFs and investigating structure-performance relationships for versatile applications.

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