Platinum Black

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The platinum metal (Pt) is well known as a standard for metrology and photometry1, 2 as an efficient catalyst3, 4, 5 and electrocatalyst6 7, 8, and as a material with excellent electrical properties9, 10. In its black form, called “platinum black”, it has broad absorbance and low reflectance in the visible and infrared region from 500 cm-1 (20 um) to 50000 cm-1 (0.2 um).

This unique property makes it valuable to cover a variety of surfaces with this substance. Platinum black-coated platinum electrodes are used as anodes in bolometers, ion-chambers for high-temperature measurements, or to increase the surface area of Pt electrodes in a voltammetry cell10.

A method for coating platinum wire with platinum black was developed when Lummer and Kurlbaum were unable to reproduce Langley’s lampblack-covered platinum foils for bolometers11.

Platinum black has been shown to act as a very active catalytically in hydrogen saturated hydrochloric acid. It is observed to assume a positive potential versus shiny platinum at zero net current (+ 340 mV at room temperature). This difference is not entirely understood, but several explanations have been proposed.

The reactivity of platinum black in hydrogen saturated hydrochloric acid has been shown to depend on its surface area. This property has been characterized by scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), atomic force microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDX) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). These results indicate that platinum black is composed of micrometer sized crystals that interconnect to form porous assemblies. These structures give the material a very high surface area, and this contributes to its exceptional optical value.

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