From Science Daily:

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., have taken atomic-level images of individual nanoparticles during heating that could lead to improved fuel-cell technologies at lower cost, reduce dependence on imported oil and minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

Heating nanoparticles and atomic-level tracking allows for the development of other less expensive catalysts, such as platinum-iron nanoparticles. Typically, pricey platinum nanoparticles are used.

Using advanced electron microscopic techniques the team was able to track the atomic-rearrangement process of an individual Platinum-Iron nanoparticle — as it got annealed inside the microscope.

“Our work is pioneering in the application of advanced electron microscopy techniques to study the structural and compositional transformation of individual nanometer-sized particles during heating,” said Gianluigi Botton, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at McMaster University.

The researchers’ work on nanoparticles, which are as small as 1/50,000th of the diameter of a human hair, could have far-reaching impact on the automotive industry.

With the depletion of fossil fuel reserves, there has been a surge of interest in developing alternative energy sources, particularly in the area of fuel cell technology. Fuel cell devices can power vehicles by converting chemical energy into electrical energy in a far more efficient and environmentally-friendly way than the conventional combustion technologies. However, they rely on catalysts to operate and reducing catalyst-cost is crucial for commercialization.

McMaster’s research team comprising of Sagar Prabhudev (Materials Science and Engineering PhD Student), Dr. Matthieu Bugnet (Post-doctoral researcher) and Botton carried out their work in collaboration with Dr. Christina Bock (NRC, Ottawa) and…

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