Porous Gold with a Nested-Network Architecture and Ultrafine Structure


A preparation strategy is developed for monolithic samples of nanoporous gold with a hierarchical structure comprising two nested networks of solid “ligaments” on distinctly different structural length scales. The electrochemical dealloying protocol achieves a large retention of less noble element in a first corrosion step, thereby allowing an extra corrosion step which forms a separate structural hierarchy level. The beneficial impact of adding Pt to the Ag–Au master alloys that are more conventionally used in dealloying approaches to nanoporous gold is demonstrated. At ≈6 nm, the lower hierarchy level ligament size emerges extremely small. Furthermore, Pt favors the retention of Ag during the first dealloying step even when the master alloy has a high Au content. The high Au content reduces the corrosion-induced shrinkage, mitigating crack formation during preparation and favoring the formation of high-quality macroscopic (mm-sized) samples. The corrosion effectively carves out the nanoscale hierarchical ligament structure from the parent crystals tens of micrometers in size. This is revealed by X-ray as well as electron backscatter diffraction, which shows that the porous crystallites inherit the highly ordered, macroscopic crystal lattice structure of the master alloy.
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