Electrocatalysis of Gold Using Gold Phosphide Nanocrystals

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Phosphorus is one of the most widely used elements in a wide variety of products and compounds. It is also the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and has a high melting point. White phosphorus (P3-) is known for its glow, a process referred to as phosphorescence.

Gold occurs naturally in rocks as ores or in free flakes and grains that have been eroded from lode deposits and placers. It is also present in the world’s oceans as an unreacted metallic alloy, mainly originating from wind-blown dust and rivers that collect in deep water.

In the presence of acids, gold reacts with nitric acid to form aqua regia and with hydrochloric acid to produce a soluble tetrachloroaurate anion. Alternatively, gold dissolves in mercury to form amalgams.

The chemical properties of gold are highly influenced by its mineral composition and environment. It is highly conductive to electricity, making it important for corrosion-resistant electrical wiring in many electronics.

Unlike other metals, gold does not react with most acids. It does, however, react with nitric acid to form aqua nitrate, which dissolves silver and base metals.

As a refractory metal, gold has been used in a number of applications for its hardness and resistance to corrosive chemicals. It is especially useful in the production of colored glass and in a variety of metallurgical processes.

Electrocatalysis on phosphide-based systems has recently been investigated in order to tailor the electronic structure and surface properties of metal electrocatalysts for enhanced hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) activity. In this work, a phase-controlled synthesis of gold phosphide nanocrystals was carried out and the electrocatalytic performance of these materials was explored. X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectra were employed to characterize the structural and electrocatalytic properties of these materials.