Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 12;13(1):6875. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34619-5.
Developing active single-atom-catalyst (SAC) for alkaline hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is a promising solution to lower the green hydrogen cost. However, the correlations are not clear between the chemical environments around the active-sites and their desired catalytic activity. Here we study a group of SACs prepared by anchoring platinum atoms on NiFe-layered-double-hydroxide. While maintaining the homogeneity of the Pt-SACs, various axial ligands (-F, -Cl, -Br, -I, -OH) are employed via a facile irradiation-impregnation procedure, enabling us to discover definite chemical-environments/performance correlations. Owing to its high first-electron-affinity, chloride chelated Pt-SAC exhibits optimized bindings with hydrogen and hydroxide, which favor the sluggish water dissociation and further promote the alkaline HER. Specifically, it shows high mass-activity of 30.6 A mgPt-1 and turnover frequency of 30.3 H2 s-1 at 100 mV overpotential, which are significantly higher than those of the state-of-the-art Pt-SACs and commercial Pt/C catalyst. Moreover, high energy efficiency of 80% is obtained for the alkaline water electrolyser assembled using the above catalyst under practical-relevant conditions.