The Restructuring-Induced CoO (x) Catalyst for Electrochemical Water Splitting

JACS Au. 2021 Nov 2;1(12):2216-2223. doi: 10.1021/jacsau.1c00346. eCollection 2021 Dec 27.

ABSTRACT

Restructuring is an important yet less understood phenomenon in the catalysis community. Recent studies have shown that a group of transition metal sulfide catalysts can completely or partially restructure during electrochemical reactions which then exhibit high activity even better than the best commercial standards. However, such restructuring processes and the final structures of the new catalysts are elusive, mainly due to the difficulty from the reaction-induced changes that cannot be captured by ex situ characterizations. To establish the true structure-property relationship in these in situ generated catalysts, we use multimodel operando characterizations including Raman spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, and X-ray reflectivity to investigate the restructuring of a representative catalyst, Co9S8, that shows better activity compared to the commercial standard RuO2 during the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), a key half reaction in water-splitting for hydrogen generation. We find that Co9S8 ultimately converts to oxide cluster (CoO x ) containing six oxygen coordinated Co octahedra as the basic unit which is the true catalytic center to promote high OER activity. The density functional theory calculations verify the in situ generated CoO x consisting of edge-sharing CoO6 octahedral clusters as the actual active sites. Our results also provide insights to design other transition-metal-based materials as efficient electrocatalysts that experience a similar restructuring in OER.

PMID:34977893 | PMC:PMC8715481 | DOI:10.1021/jacsau.1c00346

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