Low energy X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and soft X-ray absorption (XAS) microspectroscopies at high space-resolution are employed for the investigation of the coelectrodeposition of composites consisting of a polypyrrole(PPy)-matrix and Mn-based ternary dispersoids, that have been proposed as promising electrocatalysts for oxygen-reduction electrodes. Specifically, we studied Mn–Co–Cu/PP, Mn–Co–Mg/PPy and Mn–Ni–Mg/PPy co-electrodeposits. The Mn–Co–Cu system features the best ORR electrocatalytic activity in terms of electron transfer number, onset potential, half-wave potential and current density. XRF maps and micro-XAS spectra yield compositional and chemical state distributions, contributing unique molecular-level information on the pulse-plating processes. Mn, Ni, Co and Mg exhibit a bimodal distribution consisting of mesoscopic aggregates of micrometric globuli, separated by polymer-rich ridges. Within this common qualitative scenario, the individual systems exhibit quantitatively different chemical distribution patterns, resulting from specific electrokinetic and electrosorption properties of the single components. The electrodeposits consist of Mn3+,4+
-oxide particles, accompanied by combinations of Co0
resulting from the alternance of cathodic and anodic pulses. The formation of highly electroactive Mn3+,4+
in the as-fabricated material is a specific feature of the ternary systems, deriving from synergistic stabilisation brought about by two types of bivalent dopants as well as by galvanic contact to elemental metal; this result represents a considerable improvement in material quality with respect to previously studied Mn/PPy and Mn-based/PPy binaries.
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