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Issue 17, 2016
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Ionic liquid-derived Fe–N/C catalysts for highly efficient oxygen reduction reaction without any supports, templates, or multi-step pyrolysis

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Abstract

The development of efficient and low-cost non-precious-metal electrocatalysts such as Fe–N/C for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is crucial for fuel cells and metal–air batteries. Here, we report a class of highly efficient Fe–N/C electrocatalysts derived from versatile imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) with a halogen-coordinated iron anion. Without any supports, templates, or multi-step pyrolysis, the as-prepared Fe–N/C catalysts exhibited superior activity in the ORR to the state-of-the-art Pt/C in alkaline electrolytes by 44 mV in half-wave potential. More interestingly, owing to the versatile configuration of the imidazolium-based IL precursors, a diverse range of catalyst structures was successfully modulated. Based on this, it was clearly revealed that the electrical conductivity, type/amount of N dopants, and “effective porosity” (not the conventional total surface area) jointly determined the electrocatalytic activity. A pivotal radar chart is further proposed to successfully predict activity in the ORR merely from the structures of Fe–N/C catalysts. The proposed ILs platform would provide a valuable toolbox for the molecular design of precursors to tune the structures of Fe–N/C electrocatalysts towards excellent activity in the ORR in a highly flexible manner, and facilitate the long-term challenging study of relationships between processing, structure and activity.

Graphical abstract: Ionic liquid-derived Fe–N/C catalysts for highly efficient oxygen reduction reaction without any supports, templates, or multi-step pyrolysis

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Jan 2016, accepted on 02 Apr 2016 and first published on 04 Apr 2016


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6TA00648E
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2016,4, 6630-6638
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY-NC license
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    Ionic liquid-derived Fe–N/C catalysts for highly efficient oxygen reduction reaction without any supports, templates, or multi-step pyrolysis

    F. He, X. Chen, Y. Shen, Y. Li, A. Liu, S. Liu, T. Mori and Y. Zhang, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2016, 4, 6630
    DOI: 10.1039/C6TA00648E

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