Novel electrodes are needed for direct ethanol fuel cells with improved quality. Hierarchical engineering can produce catalysts composed of mesocrystals with many exposed active planes and multi-diffused voids. Here we report a simple, one-pot, hydrothermal method for fabricating Co 3 O 4 /carbon/substrate electrodes that provides control over the catalyst mesocrystal morphology (i.e., corn tubercle pellets or banana clusters oriented along nanotube domains, or layered lamina or multiple cantilevered sheets). These morphologies afforded catalysts with a high density of exposed active facets, a diverse range of mesopores in the cage interior, a window architecture, and vertical alignment to the substrate, which improved efficiency in an ethanol electrooxidation reaction compared with a conventional platinum/carbon electrode. On the atomic scale, the longitudinally aligned architecture of the Co 3 O 4 mesocrystals resulted in exposed low- and high-index single and interface surfaces that had improved electron transport and diffusion compared with currently used electrodes.
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