One of the most important challenges facing humanity is the switch from fossil fuels to clean energy. Fuel cells are expected to play a key role in a future sustainable society. In order to improve the kinetics of the oxygen reduction reaction and reduce the Pt loading, we need to develop more efficient catalysts. This can be achieved by modification of the geometric structure (atomic ensembles) and/or alteration of the electronic properties of the surface atoms (electronic effects). First, I will address atomic ensemble control by using a self-ordered molecular pattern [1]. Secondly, I will focus on electronic effects by alloying Pt with lanthanides [2,3]: by using the lanthanide contraction, we can control strain effects and tailor the activity of Pt alloys [3].

[1] Strmcnik, Escudero-Escribano et al., Nat. Chem. 2010, 2, 880; [2] Escudero-Escribano et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 130, 16476; [3] Escudero-Escribano et al., Science 2016, 352, 73.