Catalyst nanomaterials for applications in hydrogen fuel cells
: a new approach for the synthesis and surface functionalization by low-pressure plasmas

Student thesis: Doc typesDoctor of Sciences


The present Ph.D. thesis aims to provide a better understanding on the nucleation mechanisms involved in the synthesis of Pt nanomaterials supported on a carbon matrix. The original approach of this work is based on the low-pressure plasma methodology in which (i) structural defects are created at the surface and act as preferential nucleation sites, (ii) functional groups are grafted at the surface of the carbon support and (iii) the metallic precursor is decomposed allowing the formation and growth of nanoparticles at the nucleation sites. The effect on the nanoparticle synthesis of the Pt precursor and the type of carbon employed as support are discussed in the light of X-ray and electron-based characterization techniques (XPS, XRD, TEM). The study is then extended to a non-noble metal, namely Ni, and the formation of Ni/C and defective Pt-Ni/C nanoparticles is discussed. Finally, the present work investigates the nitrogen doping of a carbon xerogel by using the low-pressure plasma method. This results in the incorporation of nitrogen atoms in the carbon material employed which shows great potential for various applications such as in fuel cells or energy storage.
Date of Award4 Sept 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Namur
SupervisorLaurent Houssiau (Supervisor), Jean-Francois Colomer (President), YAN BUSBY (Jury), Nathalie Job (Jury) & Amaél Caillard (Jury)

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