Iron atom-cluster interactions increase activity and improve durability in Fe-N-C fuel cells

Nat Commun. 2022 May 26;13(1):2963. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-30702-z.

ABSTRACT

Simultaneously increasing the activity and stability of the single-atom active sites of M-N-C catalysts is critical but remains a great challenge. Here, we report an Fe-N-C catalyst with nitrogen-coordinated iron clusters and closely surrounding Fe-N4 active sites for oxygen reduction reaction in acidic fuel cells. A strong electronic interaction is built between iron clusters and satellite Fe-N4 due to unblocked electron transfer pathways and very short interacting distances. The iron clusters optimize the adsorption strength of oxygen reduction intermediates on Fe-N4 and also shorten the bond amplitude of Fe-N4 with incoherent vibrations. As a result, both the activity and stability of Fe-N4 sites are increased by about 60% in terms of turnover frequency and demetalation resistance. This work shows the great potential of strong electronic interactions between multiphase metal species for improvements of single-atom catalysts.

PMID:35618792 | PMC:PMC9135695 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-022-30702-z

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