Nat Commun. 2022 Jun 10;13(1):3356. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31096-8.
A sustainable future requires highly efficient energy conversion and storage processes, where electrocatalysis plays a crucial role. The activity of an electrocatalyst is governed by the binding energy towards the reaction intermediates, while the scaling relationships prevent the improvement of a catalytic system over its volcano-plot limits. To overcome these limitations, unconventional methods that are not fully determined by the surface binding energy can be helpful. Here, we use organic chiral molecules, i.e., hetero-helicenes such as thiadiazole-helicene and bis(thiadiazole)-helicene, to boost the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) by up to ca. 130 % (at the potential of 1.65 V vs. RHE) at state-of-the-art 2D Ni- and NiFe-based catalysts via a spin-polarization mechanism. Our results show that chiral molecule-functionalization is able to increase the OER activity of catalysts beyond the volcano limits. A guideline for optimizing the catalytic activity via chiral molecular functionalization of hybrid 2D electrodes is given.