Electro‐oxidation of Titanium Carbide Nanoparticles in Aqueous Acid Creates TiC@TiO2 Core‐Shell Structures

2021 
Titanium carbide (TiC) is an attractive support material used in electro-catalysis and sensing. We report the electrochemistry of TiC nanoparticles (NPs, 35–50 nm in diameter) in different electrolytes in the pH range of 0 to 8. The TiC NPs undergo irreversible oxidation in acidic, basic, and neutral media, attributed to the partial conversion into titanium dioxide (TiO2) with the amount of oxidation highly dependent on the pH of the solution. In H2SO4 (pH 0), multiple voltammetric scans revealed the conversion to be partial but repeated scans allowed a conversion approaching 100% to be obtained with 20 scans generating a ca 60% level of oxidation. The process is inferred to lead to the formation of TiC@TiO2 core-shell nanoparticles (~12.5 nm core radius and ~5 nm shell width for a 60% conversion) and this value sharply decreases with an increase of pH. Independent measurements were conducted at a single NP level (via nano-impact experiments) to confirm the oxidation of the NPs, showing consistent agreement with the bulk measurements.
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