Catalyst design by scanning probe block copolymer lithography

Liliang Huang, Peng Cheng Chen, Mohan Liu, Xianbiao Fu, Pavlo Gordiichuk, Yanan Yu, Chris Wolverton, Yijin Kang, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Scanning probe block copolymer lithography (SPBCL), in combination with density-functional theory (DFT), has been used to design and synthesize hydrogen evolution catalysts. DFT was used to calculate the hydrogen adsorption energy on a series of single-element, bimetallic, and trimetallic (Au, Pt, Ni, and Cu) substrates to provide leads that could be synthesized in the form of alloy or phase-separated particles via SPBCL. PtAuCu (18 nm, ∼1:1:1 stoichiometry) has been identified as a homogeneous alloy phase that behaves as an effective hydrogen evolution catalyst in acidic aqueous media, even when it is made in bulk form via solution phase methods. Significantly, the bulk-prepared PtAuCu/C nanocatalyst discovered via this process exhibits an activity seven times higher than that of the state-of-the-art commercial Pt/C catalyst (based upon Pt content). The advantage of using SPBCL in the discovery process is that one can uniformly make particles, each consisting of a uniform phase combination (e.g., all alloy or all phase-segregated species) at a fixed elemental ratio, an important consideration when working with polyelemental species where multiple phases may exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3764-3769
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2018


  • Catalysis
  • Hydrogen evolution reaction
  • Lithography
  • Multimetallic nanocatalyst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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