ISSN 1027-4510, Journal of Surface Investigation: X-ray, Synchrotron and Neutron Techniques, 2017, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 737–745. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2017.
Original Russian Text © V.V. Poplavsky, A.V. Dorozhko, V.G. Matys, 2017, published in Poverkhnost’, 2017, No. 7, pp. 60–69.
Investigation of the Composition and Properties of Catalytic Layers
Prepared by the Ion Beam-Assisted Deposition of Tin and Platinum
on Carbon Supports
V. V. Poplavsky*, A. V. Dorozhko, and V. G. Matys
Belarusian State Technological University, Minsk, 220006 Belarus
Received October 29, 2016
Abstract—Catalytic layers are prepared by the vacuum ion-beam-assisted deposition of tin and platinum onto
carbon-based AVCarb® Carbon Fiber Paper P50 and Toray Carbon Fiber Paper TGP-H-060 T supports to
produce electrocatalysts for direct methanol and ethanol fuel cells with a polymer-membrane electrolyte. The
layers are formed in the mode of ion-assisted deposition, wherein ions of the deposited metal are used as ions
assisting deposition. Metal deposition is performed from a neutral vapor fraction, while mixing of the depos-
ited layer with the substrate by accelerated ions of the same metal is carried out from the vacuum arc discharge
plasma of a pulsed electric arc ion source. The morphology and composition of the layers is studied using
scanning electron microscopy, electron probe microanalysis, X-ray fluorescence analysis, and Rutherford
backscattering spectrometry. It is demonstrated by means of voltammetric measurements that the resulting
electrocatalysts exhibit activity in the oxidation of methanol and ethanol.
Keywords: ion-beam-assisted deposition, tin, platinum, carbon supports, catalytic layers
The nonequilibrium process of doping the surface
of materials with accelerated metal ions makes it pos-
sible to introduce controlled amounts of dopant at the
atomic level into a thin surface layer. The ion-beam
modification of functional materials, the properties of
which are determined primarily by the surface compo-
sition, in particular, heterogeneous catalysts of chem-
ical reactions [1–4], is of great interest. First of all, the
ion-beam formation of catalytic layers on the surface
of electrocatalysts (comparatively small in size elec-
trodes of electrochemical devices in alternative
energy) seems viable.
One of the directions of development of alternative
energy is the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier.
Prospects for the development of hydrogen energy
include the production of hydrogen, its storage, distri-
bution, and use for the generation of electrical energy
using fuel cells. Fuel cells generate electricity be means
of redox transformations of reagents coming from out-
side; the fuel and oxidizer are supplied separately and
continuously to the electrochemical cell and react
with two electrodes. In the fuel cell, the chemical
energy of the fuel is converted directly into electricity.
Such sources of current are characterized by a high
efficiency, low toxicity of the reaction products, and
the possibility of creating a modular design for achiev-
ing high power.
Low-temperature fuel cells with a polymer mem-
brane electrolyte are promising for wide application in
transport and in stationary installations of small size.
The main obstacle to large-scale use is still their high
cost as compared to conventional devices that produce
energy. Hydrogen fuel cells are the most developed to
date. Recently, studies have been intensively carried
out on the creation of fuel cells for the direct oxidation
of organic alcohols, namely, methanol and ethanol:
direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) and direct ethanol
fuel cell (DEFC). The use of organic fuels instead of
hydrogen eliminates the problem of obtaining, purify-
ing, storing, and distributing hydrogen and simplifies
the fuel supply system. Ethanol is a renewable source
of energy because it can be produced from biomass.
Electrochemical processes, which underlie the
principle of the action of fuel cells, occur only in the
presence of a catalyst. The electrodes of a fuel cell
(electrocatalysts) are supported heterogeneous cata-
lysts, in the preparation of which catalytic metals are
applied to a chemically inert electrically conductive
carrier. Platinum is used as the main catalytic metal of
electrocatalysts in fuel cells. To achieve a high activity
of electrocatalysts, activating additives are added to